2021 Guinness Six Nations Player of the Championship Hamish Watson has been named in Scotland’s 36-man training squad ahead of the Autumn Nations Series.
Watson is one of three British & Irish Lions tourists who will bring their experience to the group, with scrum-half Ali Price and prop Zander Fagerson also included in the squad.
Gregor Townsend has selected predominantly home-based players, 19 of whom featured in the 2021 summer squad which was unable to play its three intended matches due to Covid-19.
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Glasgow Warriors back-row player Rory Darge continues in the squad from the summer after man of the match performances in the opening rounds of the United Rugby Championship campaign.
He is joined by fellow Warriors in backs Ross Thompson, Cole Forbes, Rufus McLean, Kyle Steyn, George Horne, Jamie Dobie, Sione Tuipulotu and forwards Jamie Bhatti, Oli Kebble, Matt Fagerson and George Turner.
Edinburgh Rugby also have players retained from the summer in the form of back row pair Jamie Ritchie and Luke Crosbie, alongside lock Jamie Hodgson and backs Blair Kinghorn, Jack Blain, Damien Hoyland and James Lang.
The remaining 17 players are called up having returned from either the Lions tour to South Africa, injury or rest, having not featured in Scotland’s disrupted summer campaign.
Townsend said: “It has been great to see both Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors make positive starts to their URC campaigns driven by some standout performances from both young and established players.
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“With four tough Test matches ahead of us in this year’s Autumn Nations Series it is important we bring players together early, connect with them as coaches and enable them to grow as a group before the campaign gets underway against Tonga at BT Murrayfield.
“We’ll then move on to the challenge of facing in-form Australia, World Champions South Africa and a very dangerous Japan team.
“We are pleased with the depth we are able to call upon to make up this training squad and it provides a genuine opportunity for players to put their hand up for selection to the full Autumn Nations Series squad.”
In the pack Grant Gilchrist, Stuart McInally, Fraser Brown, Nick Haining and Rob Harley are called up bringing with them a combined tally of 169 caps.
Also returning are backs Darcy Graham, Mark Bennett and Sam Johnson all of whom have made bright starts to the new season.
Townsend has also brought in four new faces with an uncapped quartet of three forwards and a back.
Edinburgh Rugby forwards Pierre Schoeman and Marshall Sykes are joined by midfield back Charlie Savala in the training group.
There is also a call-up for Cell C Sharks loose-forward Dylan Richardson who qualifies for Scotland through his father, who was born in Edinburgh.
The 22 year-old flanker has started two URC matches this season having lined up against Munster in the opening round and Glasgow Warriors in round two and was part of the matchday 23 for the South African team’s third-round win against Ospreys.
The training squad will convene on Sunday 17 October and train on Monday 18 October at Oriam High Performance centre outside Edinburgh.
FORWARDS: Matt Fagerson, Nick Haining, Hamish Watson, Rory Darge, Dylan Richardson, Jamie Ritchie, Luke Crosbie, Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Hodgson, Rob Harley, Marshall Sykes, Zander Fagerson, Oli Kebble, Murray McCallum, George Turner, Fraser Brown, Stuart McInally, Pierre Schoeman, Jamie Bhatti
BACKS: Rufus McLean, Damien Hoyland, Darcy Graham, Cole Forbes, Sione Tuipulotu, Mark Bennett, Matt Currie, Sam Johnson, James Lang, Kyle Steyn, Jack Blain, Blair Kinghorn, Ross Thompson, Charlie Savala, Ali Price, George Horne, Jamie Dobie