PHIL SMITH has named his initial 30 man training squad for the Scotland Club XV. The team will travel to Birmingham Moseley for a fixture against England Counties on 24th February with a home fixture to be confirmed at a later date. It is understood the second match could well be against an Italian select side.
Last year’s Scottish Club XV became the first team to win back-to-back matches in a season, defeating English Counties 57-27 at Netherdale and the Ireland Club XV 13-19 in Cork.
In the backs, key performers from last season’s squad feature with Melrose full-back Fraser Thomson, Boroughmuir wing Jordan Edmunds and last season’s captain and Ayr centre Ross Curle all selected.
Gala’s Gregor Hunter and Boroughmuir’s Chris Laidlaw are among the options for the stand-off position while the Gossman brothers, Kerr from Glasgow Hawks and Craig from Ayr, are vying for selection on the wings.
Currie’s Robbie Nelson and Harvey Elms, Ayr’s Archie Russell and David Armstrong and Melrose’s Murdo McAndrew and George Taylor are also selected.
There are five players each from Melrose, Ayr and Heriot’s in the group of forwards named.
Jamie Bhatti, Neil Irvine-Hess, Russell Anderson, Grant Runciman and Iain Moody all in the mix from Melrose. Ayr captain Pete McCallum will lead the team, alongside club-mates Will Bordill, Robert McAlpine Blair Macpherson and Steven Longwell. While Heriot’s are represented by old hands Struan Cessford, Michael Liness and Russell Nimmo, plus new faces Murray McCallum and Callum Marshall.
Tommy Spinks from Glasgow Hawks and Fergus Scott from Currie have also been selected.
“Throughout the spine of the squad, we have players in key positions who have experience of playing in the Club XV and who played a significant part in the historic victories over England Counties and Ireland Club XV last season,” said Smith.
“I have selected players who have been in genuine form in the BT Premiership and who are best representing the Scottish club game with some new faces adding to the depth and talent of the squad.”
“The fixture against England Counties will be a good test away from home and is a great opportunity for the players to show that the club game in Scotland is consistently played out at a high level.”
Scotland Club XV squad 2016/17
Fergus Scott (Currie), Russell Anderson (Melrose), Michael Liness (Heriot’s), Jamie Bhatti** (Melrose), Struan Cessford (Heriot’s), Steven Longwell (Ayr), Murray McCallum** (Heriot’s), Russell Nimmo (Heriot’s), Robert McAlpine (Ayr), Callum Marshall (Heriot’s), Neil Irvine-Hess (Melrose), Blair Macpherson (Ayr), Grant Runciman (Melrose), Will Bordill (Ayr), Tommy Spinks (Glasgow Hawks), Iain Moody (Melrose), Pete McCallum (Ayr).
Murdo McAndrew (Melrose), David Armstrong (Ayr), Chris Laidlaw (Boroughmuir), Gregor Hunter (Gala), Robbie Nelson (Currie), George Taylor (Melrose), Ross Curle (Ayr), Archie Russell (Ayr), Harvey Elms (Currie), Fraser Thomson (Melrose), Kerr Gossman (Glasgow Hawks), Jordan Edmunds* (Boroughmuir), Craig Gossman (Ayr).
Image courtesy: Scottish Rugby/SNS Group