Scotland enter the 2019 Guinness Six Nations with a spring in their step after a hugely successful Autumn international campaign and a squad brimming with world class talent.
Expectations have never been higher of Gregor Townsend’s squad, with his men attempting to better last year’s Championship that saw Scotland secure a first top half finish since 2006.
Earning three victories over the course of a stunning 2018 Six Nations campaign, including scooping the Calcutta Cup, and with a raft of new talent – a whole host of Scotland stars are set to standout.
With Scotland’s 2019 Guinness Six Nations opener against Italy on the horizon, here are three of the players to look out for:
25-year-old centre Huw Jones has been a near ever-present in Scotland’s set-up since making his long awaited debut in 2016 against Japan.
He evidently impressed his bosses, earning a spot in Scotland’s 2017 Six Nations side and coming off the bench in the opener against Ireland at BT Murrayfield.
From that moment the Edinburgh-born back never looked play – featuring in every Championship game since, including scoring twice against England at Twickenham.
Boasting an international record that stands to be desired by the game’s very best – 10 tries from 19 caps – Jones appears to relish playing on the big stage.
As one of only six Scotland players to have started in every one of last year’s Championship matches, Jones proved any doubters wrong by notching up three tries in the competition – including another brace against England that sealed the Calcutta Cup for the first time since 2008.
With the injury worries that saw him miss last season’s Guinness PRO14 semi-final for Glasgow Warriors now behind him, Jones is ready to announce himself on the big stage once again.
Scotland head coach Townsend pulled off a major coup when he persuaded Exeter Chiefs lock Sam Skinner to switch allegiances to Scotland after a successful England U20 career.
At just 23-years-old and standing at an ungainly 6ft 5″ tall, Skinner would be a threat for any international set-up, but already after just three international caps, the Chiefs man has made his presence felt.
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) November 15, 2018
A stalwart of his club’s domestic challenges in recent years, his coach Rob Baxter challenged the Exeter-born back to reproduce his domestic form on the international stage and he duly delivered.
Making his debut in the Autumn international triumph over Fiji, Skinner was singled out for the Man of the Match award after a barnstorming display in front of his home crowd.
A notoriously ferocious tackler – Skinner went on to make seven tackles in the match and notched up an impressive 44 metres in the outing as his side ran out 54-17 winners.
Skinner featured in both clashes against South Africa and Argentina – coming off the replacements bench in the latter to inspire his side to a 14-9 win – sending out a warning to all future Six Nations opponents.
There was no better example of Tommy Seymour’s destructive best than during the recent Autumn international victory over Fiji.
Crossing the whitewash for a hat-trick in the memorable triumph, Seymour outlined his credentials as his nations’ fourth highest try scorer of all-time.
With 19 tries from 46 international caps, the Nashville-born speed merchant is slowly closing in on Scotland’s all-time record try scorer Ian Smith – a record of 25 tries that’s stood since 1933.
Hat-trick for Tommy Seymour… as he scores his third try of the day over Fiji! 🔥
Watch live on BBC and BT Sport. pic.twitter.com/g3rtwUdamc
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) November 10, 2018
The try scoring blitz against Fiji ended an unwelcome year-long spell without a Test try – but his CV is unquestionable after emerging from the 2017 British & Irish Lions tour as top try scorer.
The 30-year-old will undoubtedly be licking his lips at the prospect of adding to his impeccable international record when Scotland host Italy at BT Murrayfield on February 2.