SCOTLAND Head coach Andy Robinson has named six Borders players in his 34-strong Scotland squad for training at St Andrews next week in preparation for the first EMC Test against New Zealand at Murrayfield next month.
Stuart Hogg (Hawick), Lee Jones (Selkirk) and Greig Laidlaw (Jed-Forest) will line up in the backs while Kelly Brown (Melrose), Geoff Cross (Gala) and Ross Ford (Kelso) will hunker down with the forwards. Hawick winger Nikki Walker was not considered due to a leg injury received last month while playing for his new side Worcester Warriors.
Robinson said: “It’s always an exciting time when the Scotland squad comes together ahead of the first Test match of the season.
“It’s some four months since Scotland last played an international so when the squad reconvenes there will be an element of renewing acquaintances and reigniting the spark and spirit that was such a key part of our success on our summer tour.
“New Zealand are formidable opponents. They do the basics exceptionally well and play with a pace and ruthlessness. It’s no coincidence that they are the best team in the world.
“We must look to build on the physical commitment of our players against Australia, Fiji and Samoa. As ever the Scotland supporters are right behind us and with more than 55,000 tickets sold already for our game against New Zealand, the players are determined to give their all.”
The squad will convene at St Andrews on Monday for the three-day camp and then meet up in Edinburgh on Monday, November 5 to begin detailed build-up to the New Zealand match.
Following the New Zealand game Andy Robinson, senior assistant coach Scott Johnson and defence coach Matt Taylor will consider afresh the squad for the two subsequent EMC Tests – against South Africa at Murrayfield on Saturday, November 17 and v Tonga at Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen on Saturday, November 24.
Scotland squad in preparation for the EMC Test against New Zealand at Murrayfield on Sunday, November 11 (kick-off 2.30pm):
Backs: Mike Blair (Brive), Nick De Luca (Edinburgh Rugby), Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors), Max Evans (Castres), Stuart Hogg, Peter Horne and Ruaridh Jackson (all Glasgow Warriors), Lee Jones, Greig Laidlaw (both Edinburgh Rugby), Sean Lamont (Glasgow Warriors), Rory Lawson (Newcastle Falcons), Peter Murchie, Henry Pyrgos (both Glasgow Warriors), Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) and Tim Visser (Edinburgh Rugby)
Forwards: John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors), Kelly Brown (Saracens), Geoff Cross, David Denton, Ross Ford and Grant Gilchrist (all Edinburgh Rugby), Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors), Richie Gray (Sale Sharks), Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors), Jim Hamilton (Gloucester), Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh Rugby), Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), Scott Lawson (London Irish), Stuart McInally and Ross Rennie (both Edinburgh Rugby), Tom Ryder (Glasgow Warriors), Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan) and Kyle Traynor (Bristol Rugby).
Not considered due to injury:
Backs – Joe Ansbro (London Irish), Ben Cairns (Edinburgh Rugby), Chris Cusiter, Rory Lamont, Graeme Morrison (all Glasgow Warriors), Nikki Walker (Worcester Warriors) and Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors). Forwards – Alasdair Dickinson (Sale Sharks), Ed Kalman (Glasgow Warriors), Stevie Lawrie (Edinburgh Rugby), Moray Low, Pat MacArthur and Jon Welsh (all Glasgow Warriors).