Three uncapped players in Autumn Test squad
Head Coach Gregor Townsend today named three uncapped players in a 40-man Scotland squad for the 2018 Autumn Tests.
The national team will face Wales in Cardiff on Saturday 3 November and contest the ‘Doddie Weir Cup’, as both teams honour the former Scotland and British & Irish Lions player diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.
A host of commercial, community and corporate activity will take place around the Test to help raise awareness for the My Name'5 Doddie Foundation to the thousands in attendance and millions more watching the live broadcast.
Scotland will then return home to BT Murrayfield for three home Tests against Fiji, South Africa and Argentina on the consecutive Saturdays that follow (10, 17 and 24 November), all of which are on target for capacity crowds, with South Africa sold out and Fiji and Argentina close behind.
Scotland Head Coach, Gregor Townsend, said: “We now begin the last 12 months of our preparations for Rugby World Cup 2019 with four Test matches in four weeks, a similar challenge to the one we’ll face in Japan.
“We’ve named a 40-man group for this campaign, which highlights the quality of player that is now available to us and the competition for places.
“It also enables us to welcome more players into our training environment and hopefully give a few more players a taste of Test match rugby.
“It’s going to be an exciting year for the squad but our primary focus is fixed on performing well against Wales – familiar opponents who have already recorded a win against us this year.”
Scotland’s uncapped trio are Scarlets back-row Blade Thomson, Exeter Chiefs lock Sam Skinner and Glasgow Warriors centre Sam Johnson.
Thomson and Skinner are eligible for the national team through family connections, Thomson through his paternal grandfather, Robert, from Wishaw, while Skinner’s father, Peter, is from Ayr.
Skinner (23) was first involved in the then Scottish Exiles (now Scottish Qualified) programme as a teenager, while at Taunton Titans, before he joined the Chiefs in the 2014/15 season.
He was then selected for England U20 - and faced many of his Scotland contemporaries in the age-grade Six Nations - before becoming an increasingly prominent part of the Exeter squad that won the English Premiership title for the first time in 2017 and finished as runners-up in last year’s final.
Thomson (27) arrived in west Wales from Super Rugby side Hurricanes, having represented New Zealand U20 and the Maori All Blacks, and has been a stand-out performer for the Llanelli side in his debut Guinness PRO14 season.
Johnson (25) [pictured right] is eligible for Scotland on residency grounds, having joined Glasgow Warriors in the summer of 2015.
The Australian-born centre has been a popular figure at the Scotstoun club, making 40 appearances since his arrival and voted last year’s Players’ Player of the Season by his peers.
The squad also welcomes the return of several seasoned campaigners who missed the summer tour either through injury or a summer of scheduled rest, which sees the likes of Alex Dunbar, Jonny Gray, Huw Jones, Greig Laidlaw, Sean Maitland, Willem Nel, Gordon Reid, Finn Russell, Tommy Seymour, Ryan Wilson and Hamish Watson all back in the squad.
The selection also marks the return of centre Matt Scott and scrum-half Henry Pyrgos, who last featured in a Scotland shirt in the side’s 2017 wins over Australia in Sydney in June and Edinburgh last November, respectively.
Townsend added: “We had a productive summer tour in which a number of players made their first outing for their country.
“A lot of those players have continued to perform well for their clubs and have merited re-selection in a strong group.
“We also welcome Blade and both Sams into the squad. We are looking forward to working with them and getting our squad back together for the first time since the summer.
“It will be a very challenging series, with the Wales Test providing a very tough contest before three huge matches at BT Murrayfield later that month.”
Townsend has also invited Edinburgh back-row Luke Crosbie and wing Darcy Graham to train with the squad.
When accessing tickets to the Wales v Scotland match, supporters will be given the opportunity to automatically donate to the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation and Welsh Rugby Charitable Trust, although there is no obligation to do so with £0, £1, £2, £5 options available. Donations to the charity can also be made directly online via www.myname5doddie.co.uk/donate.
40-MAN SCOTLAND SQUAD FOR 2018 AUTUMN TESTS
Alex Allan (Glasgow Warriors) – 4 caps
Simon Berghan (Edinburgh) – 10 caps
Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh) – 4 caps
Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) – 34 caps
Allan Dell (Edinburgh) – 13 caps
David Denton (Leicester Tigers) – 42 caps
Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 1 cap
Ross Ford (Edinburgh) – 110 caps
Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) – 25 caps
Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) – 43 caps
Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors) – 20 caps
Murray McCallum (Edinburgh) – 3 caps
Stuart McInally (Edinburgh) – 18 caps
Willem Nel (Edinburgh) – 22 caps
Gordon Reid (London Irish) – 32 caps
Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) – 2 caps
Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs) – uncapped
Blade Thomson (Scarlets) – uncapped
Ben Toolis (Edinburgh) – 12 caps
George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) – 5 caps
Hamish Watson (Edinburgh) – 20 caps
Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors) – 37 caps
Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors) – 28 caps
Dougie Fife (Edinburgh) – 8 caps
Chris Harris (Newcastle Falcons) – 4 caps
Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) – 3 caps
George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 2 caps
Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 35 caps
Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors) – uncapped
Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) – 16 caps
Lee Jones (Glasgow Warriors) – 9 caps
Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) – 5 caps
Greig Laidlaw (Clermont Auvergne) – 63 caps
Sean Maitland (Saracens) – 34 caps
Byron McGuigan (Sale Sharks) – 5 caps
Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 17 caps
Henry Pyrgos (Edinburgh) – 27 caps
Finn Russell (Racing 92) – 37 caps
Matt Scott (Edinburgh) – 39 caps
Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) – 43 caps
Not considered through injury: John Barclay, Mark Bennett, Lewis Carmichael (all Edinburgh), Cornell du Preez (Worcester Warriors), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), Richie Gray (Toulouse), Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors), Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors), Duncan Taylor (Saracens).