Scotland’s 2019 Guinness Six Nations sqaud, as expected, has a fairly vivid Borders representation once again.
Head coach Gregor Townsend today (Wednesday) named seven uncapped players among a 39-man squad for the contest, which kicks off on February 2 against Italy at BT Murrayfield.
Among them is Gary Graham, of Newcastle Falcons, son of ex-Scotland international and current Hawick head coach George Graham. He (Gary) was previously an unused addition in the midway stages of last year’s Autumn Tests.
Fellow forward Jamie Bhatti has Melrose connections, while among the backs, former Hawick favourite Darcy Graham is another to get recognition.
Jedburgh’s own Greig Laidlaw captains the squad once again, while Stuart HOgg (ex-Hawick) and Lee Jones (Selkirk) are also in the reckoning.
Scotland finished last year’s championship in third place, with three wins for the second time since five nations became six, with Townsend keen to see continued improvements from his side.
He said: “There’s certainly been a lot of improvement from this group of players in recent seasons and I believe there’s much more to come.
“They’ve a genuine desire to get better and reach their potential in what is a huge year for our sport.
“In the past 18 months, we’ve played 18 Test matches and have introduced 18 new players to Test-level rugby. Once again, our squad features players aiming to take that step, which is a testimony to their performances this season and the growing strength in depth of Scottish rugby.
“We are very proud of what a number of our players have achieved since the Autumn Tests, particularly with Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors both aiming to make the last eight of the Heineken Champions Cup for the first time and both sitting in strong positions in their respective Guinness PRO14 conferences.
“We’ve also seen some excellent performances from players representing clubs in France and England, which is a credit to their commitment and work ethic.
“It is a privilege for our players to be involved in the Guinness Six Nations, which is such a prestigious tournament and will be highly competitive once again.
“We look forward to taking on the challenge of Italy and working hard as a squad over the next two weeks to deliver a winning performance.”
The full squad comprises:
Forwards – Alex Allan (Glasgow Warriors), Adam Ashe (Glasgow Warriors), Simon Berghan (Edinburgh), Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors), David Cherry (Edinburgh), Allan Dell (Edinburgh), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh),Gary Graham (Newcastle Falcons), Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors), John Hardie (Newcastle Falcons), Jake Kerr (Leicester Tigers), Stuart McInally (Edinburgh), Willem Nel (Edinburgh), D’Arcy Rae (Glasgow Warriors), Jamie Ritchie, Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs), Grant Stewart (Glasgow Warriors), Josh Strauss (Sale Sharks), Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors).
Backs – Chris Dean (Edinburgh), Darcy Graham (Edinburgh), Nick Grigg (Glasgow Warriors), Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors), Chris Harris (Newcastle Falcons), Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors), Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors), George Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors), Lee Jones (Glasgow Warriors), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh), Greig Laidlaw (Captain, Clermont Auvergne), Sean Maitland (Saracens), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors), Finn Russell (Racing 92), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors).