Hogg announces Scotland U20 squad for opener against Italy

Scotland U20 head coach Carl Hogg has named his side to face Italy in their opening match of the Under-20s Six Nations on Friday.

Scotland U20 head coach Carl Hogg has named his side to face Italy in their opening match of the Under-20s Six Nations on Friday.

Seven debutants get the nod to wear Scotland colours for the first time as Hogg names a new-look side from the team that finished sixth last year.

Versatile Glasgow Warriors back Ollie Smith makes his debut at full-back, while a new centre pairing is constructed between uncapped Cameron Anderson and Robbie McCallum.

Six-foot three-inch wing Jack Blain is handed his first start and South African-born Kwagga Van Niekerk will start for the first time, after qualifying for Scotland through his grandfather.

Edinburgh Academicals’ No 8 Jack Mann and scrum-half Roan Frostwick complete the line-up of uncapped Scotland U20 internationals as Hogg’s men prepare to take on Italy at Netherdale.

Watsonians’ Connor Boyle captains Scotland, while his understudy fly-half Ross Thompson is given a starting berth as vice-captain.

Heriots winger Rory McMichael completes the back three as a seasoned front row is announced, including hooker Finlay Scott, Sam Grahamslaw and Stirling County’s Murphy Walker.

In the second row, Racing 92’s Ewan Johnson partners 6ft6in lock, Charlie Jupp.

Ahead of the fixture, Hogg, said: “We’ve chosen a strong side which contains a good blend of pace and power, whilst there are number of players who will be looking to impress on their first appearance for Scotland U20.

“The boys have trained really well in the run up to the match and I’ve been impressed with their mind-set and positivity throughout training camp.

“Italy are a tough, combative side and we’re well aware of the passion that they bring to the fold. The boys know how tough the game will be and we’ll have to match their intensity from the get-go on Friday night.”

Scotland U20 team to face Italy U20: 15. Ollie Smith (Ayr), 14. Rory McMichael (Heriot’s), 13. Cameron Anderson (Wasps), 12. Robbie McCallum (Complutense Cisneros), 11. Jack Blain (Heriot’s), 10. Ross Thompson (Glasgow Hawks), 9. Roan Frostwick (Currie Chieftains); 1. Sam Grahamslaw (Leicester Tigers), 2. Finlay Scott (Jed-Forest), 3. Murphy Walker (Stirling County), 4. Ewan Johnson (Racing 92), 5. Charlie Jupp (Heriot’s), 6. Kwagga Van Niekirk (Lions), 7. Connor Boyle (Watsonians) (c), 8. Jack Mann (Edinburgh Accies)

Replacements: 16. Euan Ashman (Sale Sharks), 17. Andrew Nimmo (Glasgow Hawks), 18. Euan McLaren (Ayr), 19. Cameron Henderson (Stirling County), 20. Ross Bundy (Stirling County), 21. Kyle McGhie (Musselburgh), 22. Nathan Chamberlain (Bristol Bears), 23. Rufus McLean (Watsonians)