BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Vern Cotter believes he has the players who can ensure Scotland ‘compete’ in this year’s RBS Six Nations after naming a 35-man squad for the tournament.
Scrum-half Greig Laidlaw will again captain the side, who kick-off the competition with the Auld Enemy clash against England at BT Murrayfield on February 6.
A total of 23 players who played during last year’s Rugby World Cup are included in Cotter’s selection, whilst back-row forwards John Barclay, Adam Ashe and Chris Fusaro, and versatile Wasps stand-off Ruaridh Jackson have won call-ups.
Ryan Wilson, who awaits possible disciplinary action after being cited for allegedly grabbing the testicles of Northampton’s scrum-half Lee Dickson at the weekend, has not been selected, though Cotter has indicated the incident did not have any bearing on his decision.
Centres Alex Dunbar and Duncan Taylor are included after recovering from the injuries that ruled them out of RWC 2015, but Jon Welsh, Richie Vernon and Fraser Brown could not be considered due to injury, whilst Henry Pyrgos and Grant Gilchrist will train with the squad as part of their rehabilitation work.
In the front row, Cotter has named uncapped props Zander Fagerson, the Glasgow Warriors youngster who turns 20 on Wednesday, and Rory Sutherland, the 23-year-old from Edinburgh Rugby, amongst his options and has also selected Moray Low and Pat MacArthur.
After a largely impressive showing at the World Cup, and the last-gasp and controversial quarter-final defeat to Australia, Cotter insists his squad should approach the tournament with the confidence that they can challenge and even ‘dominate’ in games.
He commented: “We’ve selected a mixture of experience with some exciting young players coming through, some of whom have experienced the Rugby World Cup and are eager to move forward, take the RBS Six Nations head on and show that we can develop our game and be competitive.
“I think there should be confidence. The guys have worked hard and improved.
“There are positive signs that we can compete, and this championship will give us another opportunity to measure ourselves against very good opposition in a tough competition.
“The guys believe that we can compete, dominate and secure victories in these games.”