GREGOR Townsend has named a Scotland training squad of 42 for the Rugby World Cup, and has left another two places open – one a forward, one a back – to provide an incentive for some of those left out.
The squad must be cut to 31 before the tournament itself, but can include players who have been omitted from this initial list, as was the case four years ago when then head coach Vern Cotter brought in Tim Swinson after the lock had been left out of earlier squads through injury.
There are 17 Glasgow players in the squad and 13 from Edinburgh, while 14 members of the squad also took part in the 2015 World Cup. John Barclay, out of favour then, is bidding for a place at his third World Cup, having made his debut in the 2007 tournament and also competed in 2011.
Significant omissions include Toulouse lock Richie Gray, Glasgow lock Scott Cummings, Worcester stand-off Duncan Weir, Edinburgh centres Matt Scott and Mark Bennett, and Glasgow centres Stafford McDowall and Kyle Steyn.
Three uncapped players have been included: Scarlets back row Blade Thomson, who would almost certainly have been capped during the Six Nations Championship but for injury; Northampton back Rory Hutchinson; and Glasgow hooker Grant Stewart.
“Today’s selection is a good indication of the depth and level of competition we currently have in Scotland,” Townsend said. “We made a conscious decision to keep squad numbers low, which enables us to do more work with those most likely to be on the plane to Japan.
“We’re really excited to work with this group of players who will now compete hard for a place in the final 31-man group going to the World Cup. There are of course a number of very good players who have missed out – players who have been unlucky with injuries this year or haven’t hit form at the right time – while others are unlucky to lose out on some very close decisions.
“Some very good players have missed out, but with injuries could come into the equation later on.”
SCOTLAND TRAINING SQUAD
Backs (19): Darcy Graham (Edinburgh) 4 caps, Nick Grigg (Glasgow Warriors) 9, Chris Harris (Newcastle Falcons) 8, Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) 11, Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) 67, George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) 4, Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors) 41, RWC 2015, Rory Hutchinson (Northampton Saints) uncapped, Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) 21, Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors) 4, Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) 11, Greig Laidlaw (Clermont Auvergne) 71, RWC 2015, Sean Maitland (Saracens) 40, RWC 2015, Byron McGuigan (Sale Sharks) 8, Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) 24, Henry Pyrgos (Edinburgh) 27, RWC 2015, Finn Russell (Racing 92) 44, RWC 2015, Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) 50, RWC 2015, Duncan Taylor (Saracens) 21.
Forwards (23): John Barclay (Edinburgh) 71, RWC 2007 and 2011, Simon Berghan (Edinburgh) 19, Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) 13 , Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh) 7, Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) 42, RWC 2015, Allan Dell (Edinburgh) 22, Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 3, Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 19, Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) 33, RWC 2015, Gary Graham (Newcastle Falcons) 2 caps, Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 51, RWC 2015, Stuart McInally (Edinburgh) 27, Willem Nel (Edinburgh) 29, RWC 2015, Gordon Reid (London Irish) 34, RWC 2015, Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) 10, Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs) 5, Grant Stewart (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped, Josh Strauss (Sale Sharks) 22, RWC 2015, Blade Thomson (Scarlets) uncapped, Ben Toolis (Edinburgh) 18, George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) 5, Hamish Watson (Edinburgh) 25, Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors) 43, RWC 2015.