A trio of big-name forwards back from injury are among eight new faces in the Scotland squad ahead of their Guinness Six Nations clash with Wales this weekend.
Prop WP Nel and the versatile Sam Skinner were part of the Round One victory over Italy, before missing the last two matches through injury, while back-rower Hamish Watson has not been fit to play a part in this year’s Championship to date.
But Nel has shaken off a calf issue, Skinner has recovered from an ankle concern and Watson’s hand injury has healed – meaning all three are available for coach Gregor Townsend at BT Murrayfield on Saturday.
Watson – who impressed while making three starts during the Autumn Internationals – and Nel proved their fitness in club side Edinburgh’s loss to Benetton over the weekend.
Following the 33-20 triumph over the Azzurri, Scotland have lost at home to Ireland and away to France in this year’s Championship but clashes against Wales and England in the final two rounds offer an opportunity to bounce back.
Having that trio available will only aid their cause and Glasgow Warriors pair Stafford McDowall (centre) and Grant Stewart (hooker) also return to the group after fighting off injuries.
The final three players added by Townsend are Matt Fagerson, Byron McGuigan and veteran prop Gordon Reid – who has won 33 caps to date – but full-back Stuart Hogg, a two-time Player of the Championship, has not recovered in time to be considered for the Wales game.
With eight players being added by Townsend, an octet have been released back to their clubs – four of those through injury.
The injured quartet are scrum-half George Horne, prop D’arcy Rae, hooker George Turner and centre Chris Dean, while prop Alex Allan, fly-half Duncan Weir and back-rowers Rob Harley and John Hardie also miss out.