SCOTLAND head coach Gregor Townsend has named South African duo Oli Kebble of Glasgow Warriors and Duhan van Der Merwe of Edinburgh, plus Harlequins scrum-half Scott Steele, in his 40 man training squad for the national team’s Autumn Test schedule which kicks off against Georgia on 23rd October.
Kebble and van der Merwe have both qualified to play for Scotland in recent months through the three-year residency while Steele was born and raised in Dumfries before signing for Leicester Tigers when he was 18.
Among the notable absentees are Edinburgh back-row Magnus Bradbury (who is not listed as injured although he missed last weekend’s match against Munster with concussion), Edinburgh centre Mark Bennett, Exeter Chiefs scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and London Irish prop Allan Dell.
Second-row Richie Gray also returns to the set-up for the first time since the Spring of 2018, alongside his Glasgow Warriors team-mate Rob Harley, while London Irish flanker Blair Cowan has an opportunity to win his first cap since 2016.
Scarlets back-row Blade Thomson also re-joins the squad having last featured at the 2019 World Cup.
In the backline, Harlequins centre James Lang, who last featured in the national side during the summer of 2018 returns to the fold, as do Glasgow Warriors centre Nick Grigg and Edinburgh winger Damien Hoyland.
Racing 92 fly-half Finn Russell also joins the squad after his very public falling out with Townsend back in February.
Duncan Taylor, Rory Hutchinson, Kyle Steyn, Byron McGuigan, Alex Craig and Luke Crosbie are all unavailable for selection due to injury.
“We are very much looking forward to coming back together as a coaching and playing group after such an unprecedented and challenging period in our sport and across society in general,” said Townsend.
“There was a strong feeling that we were growing as a team during the Six Nations earlier this year, making progress from game-to-game as well as building closer bonds within the squad. Our aim is to keep this momentum going as we take on Georgia and Wales before competing in the Autumn Nations Cup in November.
“The squad we have selected is formed by the majority of the players we worked with in the Six Nations alongside players who have grabbed their opportunity in the past few weeks and have been in form for their respective teams.
“Given the lack of games since March, there will be opportunities for players out-with the squad to break into our group over the next few weeks, but for now the focus is on this group that will be in camp from tomorrow. It will be great to see some familiar faces, welcome a few back into our squad and also introduce some new players to Test match rugby.”
Scotland’s Autumn Test series squad –
Simon Berghan (Edinburgh) – 25 caps
Jamie Bhatti (Edinburgh) – 15 caps
Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) – 50 caps
Blair Cowan (London Irish) – 17 caps
Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) – 12 caps
Cornell du Preez (Worcester Warriors) – 7 caps
Matt Fagerson – (Glasgow Warriors) – 6 caps
Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 29 caps
Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) – 42 caps
Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs) – 57 caps
Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors) – 65 caps
Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors) – 21 caps
Nick Haining (Edinburgh) – 3 caps
Oli Kebble (Glasgow Warriors) – uncapped
Stuart McInally (Edinburgh) – 37 caps
Willem Nel (Edinburgh) – 38 caps
Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) – 18 caps
Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs) – 7 caps
Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh) – 7 caps
Blade Thomson (Scarlets) – 5 caps
Ben Toolis (Edinburgh) – 25 caps
George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) – 9 caps
Hamish Watson (Edinburgh) – 32 caps
Darcy Graham (Edinburgh) – 11 caps
Nick Grigg (Glasgow Warriors) – 9 caps
Chris Harris (Gloucester) – 18 caps
Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) – 20 caps
Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) CAPTAIN – 76 caps
George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 13 caps
Damien Hoyland (Edinburgh) – 4 caps
Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors) – 13 caps
Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) – 25 caps
Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) – 21 caps
James Lang (Harlequins) – 2 caps
Sean Maitland (Saracens) – 48 caps
Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 32 caps
Finn Russell (Racing 92) – 49 caps
Scott Steele (Harlequins) – uncapped
Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh) – uncapped
Duncan Weir (Worcester Warriors) – 28 caps