Gregor Townsend’s sixth Guinness Six Nations squad as Scotland head coach contains an intriguing mixture of potential debutants and returning familiar faces.
Injuries to key players may not have not helped Townsend’s cause but there remains an abundance of talent at the 49-year-old’s disposal as he seeks to mount a Championship challenge.
Here, we assess the main beneficiaries from Scotland’s squad announcement…
Henderson reaps rewards for impressive club form
Cameron Henderson was not born last time Scotland won the Championship but he could play an important role in trying to put the record straight.
The 23-year-old is one of the uncapped quartet selected by Townsend and will have a spring in his step when he links up with the squad following a string of impressive displays for Leicester Tigers.
Read more: The big winners from England’s squad announcement
The latest of those came in Friday night’s memorable 44-29 win at Clermont, which showed the lock’s ability to shine on the big stage and did not go unnoticed by Scotland’s head coach.
“We wanted to reward Cameron for his display at the weekend,” Townsend said.
“He led the lineout well in a very good win and defended well. He was in our squad for a summer tour in 2021 which unfortunately didn’t take place and he’s had to come back from a serious knee injury.
“It will be great to have him involved.”
Maitland hopes to make up for lost time
Another player to have impressed on the European stage this season is Sean Maitland, who scored in Saracens’ win at Lyon in December and also started the reverse fixture last weekend.
An ill-timed injury to the free-scoring Darcy Graham has opened up a berth on the wing and Townsend has turned to the tried and tested as one of his options to fill it, with Maitland potentially in line for a first international appearance since Round 5 of the 2021 Championship.
The 34-year-old has 15 tries from his 53 caps to date and will be eager to add to that tally in the coming weeks, while Huw Jones is another to be given a fresh opportunity to shine after almost two years out the international limelight.
“In 2021, they were very key players for us throughout the Guinness Six Nations,” Townsend said.
Read more: The key talking points from Warren Gatland’s Wales squad
“Sean had a great game in the win at Twickenham and Huw had a couple of very good moments off the bench.
“They are both very experienced players who have played well against England in the past. They will provide real competition and be desperate to get into that 23 against England.”
Healy adds to fly-half options
Ben Healy represented Ireland in the 2019 Under-20 Six Nations but Townsend has long been keen on persuading the fly-half to switch allegiance and now has his man.
The Munster ace, who will join Edinburgh in the summer, will soak up working with Finn Russell and could provide an exciting point of difference to the Racing 92 star from the bench.
Blair Kinghorn was tried in the No.10 jersey over the autumn but his versatility could well see him utilised elsewhere, particularly if the heel injury which kept Stuart Hogg out of Exeter Chiefs’ defeat at Bulls persists.
“Ben played very well off the bench against Ulster recently and started against Lions the following week – I was impressed with him that night,” Townsend said.
“He is a different player to the 10s we’ve had in the squad. He is a very good attacker both in terms of the system, his own individual strengths, and he has a very good kicking game.
“To have someone of Ben’s ability to call on when we have lost Adam Hastings and Ross Thompson to injury is a real positive.”