Scotland reinforcements boost options ahead of team announcement

After a second rest week Scotland fire back into NatWest 6 Nations action this weekend with a hotly-anticipated clash against current pacesetters Ireland.

After a second rest week Scotland fire back into NatWest 6 Nations action this weekend with a hotly-anticipated clash against current pacesetters Ireland.

The two opponents will meet in Dublin at 2.15pm on Saturday with both sides firmly in the hunt for the Championship title.

Scotland, coming off the back of victories against France and England, are set to name their squad for the match on Wednesday and here, we take a look at a few things to look out for in their announcement.

Click here for the complete 2018 NatWest 6 Nations fixture list


The good news just keeps on coming for Scotland fans.

After the Round One defeat to Wales there were inevitably some concerns but those have been swiftly dispelled by the impressive Round Two victory over France and an even more impressive win over England.

On Monday, head coach Gregor Townsend named a revised training squad of 40 players for the forthcoming rounds and welcomed back some important players into the fold, with many observing that this could be the strongest Scotland squad for some time.

Lock Richie Gray, hooker Fraser Brown, centre Alex Dunbar and props Zander Fagerson and Darryl Marfo were all included, with skills coach Mike Blair welcoming the news.

“There’s a good feeling in camp and it’s a boost to have these players back in the squad,” said Blair.

“We have some guys coming back from injury and it’s important for us to also breed players coming through the ranks, to give them the opportunity and see how they perform in this environment.

“Having that slightly larger squad enables you to look at different players and get a better insight.

“It makes a really interesting selection meeting when you have guys coming back from injury up against new guys in great form.”


Much was made in the run-up to the Championship of Scotland’s injury crisis in the front row, but no significant scrummaging issues have been seen in their matches so far and it’s a crisis that is now eased further with the returns of Brown, Fagerson and Marfo.

Townsend now has a real selection headache in this area. Gordon Reid, Stuart McInally and Simon Berghan all impressed against England last time out – but the returning trio are all strong players and have a good chance of making the 23.

Just behind them in the engine room the key phrase yet again is squad depth – Toulouse lock Richie Gray has been one of Scotland’s key players over the past five years and many will expect him to see some action against Ireland.

But standing in his way are Jonny Gray, Grant Gilchrist and Tim Swinson – all in superb form themselves.


Moving into the backline and we see again that Townsend is blessed with options – the former Glasgow Warriors head coach has kept things the same in the last two rounds but with a number of fit-again options he could be tempted into changes.

Glasgow’s Lee Jones has recovered from a head injury to train with the squad while Dunbar and Sale Sharks winger Byron McGuigan could be strong contenders to make the matchday 23.

Dunbar has been one of Scotland’s key centres for many seasons now and could push Peter Horne hard for the No.12 shirt, whilst McGuigan was selected ahead of Sean Maitland against Wales and will hope to earn his spot back.


The squad announced by Townsend on Monday was also notable to see the reselections of Edinburgh back-row duo Magnus Bradbury and John Hardie.

Given that he’s just 22 and with Scotland’s impressive options in the back row it’s a testament to Bradbury’s potential that he is involved.

And Hardie, such an influential competitor in previous Championships, has been instrumental on his return to action for Edinburgh, helping them secure away wins at Ulster and Dragons in the Guinness Pro14.

John Barclay, Hamish Watson, Cornell Du Preez, David Denton and Ryan Wilson have all seen back-row action so far, but Hardie will no doubt push them to make the 23.