INTERIM head coach Mike Blair has named 17 uncapped players in his Scotland squad of 37 for the summer series. All will be available for the A fixture against England on 27 June, while a smaller squad will go on to the full internationals against Romania (10 July) and Georgia (17 July). Edinburgh flanker Jamie Ritchie has been named as captain.
Among the backs, new Glasgow signing Sione Tuipulotu is one of those hoping to make his debut, while his Warriors team-mates Jamie Dobie, Cole Forbes, Rufus McLean and Ross Thompson are also in line to win their first caps. Edinburgh duo Jack Blain and Charlie Shiel are the other potential debutants behind the scrum.
The uncapped members of the forward contingent include prop Nick Auterac of Northampton, Cameron Henderson of Leicester and Doncaster’s Robin Hislop, who will join Wasps next season. Perhaps most significantly, the squad also includes uncapped Sale prop Ewan Ashman, who has been a target for England but is now definitely committed to Scotland, according to Blair.
“Ewan has been with us for a couple of training camps and he’s very passionate about playing for Scotland,” the interim head coach said. “He’s made us aware of that and we’re looking forward to getting him some games.”
While playing for Scotland A is enough to capture a player, it remains to be seen how many of the 17 will go on to play in a full international against either Romania or Georgia. The bottom line for Blair, however, is that this is a group with immense promise who deserve to be given the chance to show what they can do at this level.
“We spent a lot of time as coaches since the Six Nations – and prior to that – assessing the players who are available to us to play [for] the national team,” he continued. “The balance we’ve got here is one I’m really excited by. We’ve got some young players coming through who have had some recent opportunities for their pro teams, some guys who are coming back who haven’t been involved with the squad before, and some young up-and-coming players who have experienced Test-match rugby and we want them to push on to the next level as well.
“So a really exciting group. We’ve looked into it for a fair bit, and it’s taken a fair bit of time. As new interim head coach I’m starting to realise the amount of work that Gregor [Townsend] does, so it’s been a great process and I’m really happy with the squad we’ve managed to put together.”
In addition to the eight Scots who will tour South Africa with the British & Irish Lions, Darcy Graham and Huw Jones are recovering from shoulder and foot surgery respectively, while other senior players have been omitted either to give them a rest at the end of a lengthy and arduous season, or simply to give younger men the chance to prove themselves.
Those left out for one reason or another include hookers Fraser Brown and Stuart McInally, locks Jonny Gray, Grant Gilchrist and Ben Toolis, and backs Jonny Gray and Rory Hutchinson.
Scotland Squad for 2021 summer series
Ewan Ashman (Sale Sharks) uncapped
Nick Auterac (Northampton Saints) uncapped
Josh Bayliss (Bath Rugby) uncapped
Simon Berghan (Edinburgh) 31 caps
Jamie Bhatti (Bath) 18 caps
Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh) 14 caps
David Cherry (Edinburgh) 5 caps
Alex Craig (Gloucester) 2 caps
Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh) uncapped
Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) 20 caps
Rory Darge (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped
Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 13 caps
Cameron Henderson (Leicester Tigers) uncapped
Robin Hislop (Doncaster Knights) uncapped
Jamie Hodgson (Edinburgh Rugby) uncapped
Oli Kebble (Glasgow Warriors) 8 caps
Kiran McDonald (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped
Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) captain, 27 caps
Javan Sebastian (Scarlets) uncapped
Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs) 12 caps
Grant Stewart (Glasgow Warriors) 3 caps
George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) 17 caps
Jack Blain (Edinburgh) uncapped
Jamie Dobie (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped
Cole Forbes (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped
Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) 23 caps
George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) 14 caps
Damien Hoyland (Edinburgh) 4 caps
Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) 25 caps
James Lang (Harlequins) 6 caps
Rufus McLean (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped
Matt Scott (Leicester Tigers) 39 caps
Charlie Shiel (Edinburgh Rugby) uncapped
Scott Steele (Harlequins) 4 caps
Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors) 1 cap
Ross Thompson (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped
Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped.