Rob Chrystie continues as head coach of the Melrose-based semi-professional side and he’s named Craig Jackson as captain again, though the 29-year-old didn’t actually get to skipper them first time round as he was sidelined all season by a chest injury.
The Knights’ squad comprises 27 players they’ve signed up themselves, plus five contracted to the Scottish Rugby Academy.
Of that roster, 16 were recruited from clubs across the Borders and five of the others have played senior rugby at the Greenyards since leaving school.
Melrose-born centre Jackson, a member of Scotland’s sevens squad named as BT Premiership player of the season in 2018 while at Melrose, said: “I’m delighted to captain the Southern Knights for a second season, although hopefully I’ll be able to provide more leadership from on the pitch this time.
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“There are some really exciting young players who have come into the squad and really bought into what being a Southern Knight is all about.
“As a playing group, we are raring to go and can’t wait to show what this group can do on the pitch.”
Jackson’s Scotland sevens teammate Nyle Godsmark returns to Melrose after earning 31 international caps in the short-sided format.
Among the new faces are full-back Keiran Clark, 18, part of the Scotland under-20 extended Six Nations squad earlier this year; Scotland Club XV centre Andrew Mitchell, 20, previously at Hawick; tighthead prop Euan McLaren, 22, a past Scottish under-20 international; and South African-born former Edinburgh stand-off Jason Baggott, 26.
Ex-Scotland under-20 prop Mak Wilson, 21, from Duns, returns to the Greenyards on loan from London’s Harlequins’ academy.
Three of the Knights’ academy players are not long back from representing Scotland in the under-20 Six Nations in Wales – flanker Harri Morris, hooker Patrick Harrison and stand-off Cammy Scott.
Former Hawick, Melrose and Border Reivers scrum-half Chrystie, 43, has also signed up Kelso’s Ross Ford and Melrose’s Lewis Carmichael as assistant coaches.“The squad have had a tough 18 months, but they are a resilient team,” said Chrystie.
“In the first season of Super6, we took a few games to get going. A lot of this squad were involved then, so they now know the level that they need to play at to win.
“I’m delighted that we’re able to offer the opportunity for so many players from right across the Borders to play in the part-time professional league.
“It will give them the chance to play at that next level before crossing that bridge to the professional game.
“We’re building something special with this squad. You could see that in the friendly we had with Ayrshire Bulls last weekend.
“We are looking forward to seeing how hard and far we can push this young exciting squad.”
Making up the rest of the squad are forwards Grant Shiells, Russell Anderson, James Head, Calum Crookshanks, Fraser Renwick, Shaun Gunn, Dalton Redpath, Daniel Suddon, Allan Ferrie, Angus Runciman, Ruaridh Knott, Neil Irvine-Hess, Iain Moody and Harry Borthwick, plus backs Patrick Anderson, Joe Jenkins, Jacob Henry, Billy Vilikesa Wara, Murdo McAndrew, Nathan Sweeney, Iain Sim and Cameron Jones.
Jackson, Redpath, Shiells, Henry, Sweeney, McAndrew, Head, Knott, Irvine-Hess, Gunn, Renwick, Sim, Anderson, Crookshanks, Wilson, Morris and Jenkins were all in the original Knights squad announced in October 2019.
They get their new campaign under way away to Stirling County at Bridgehaugh tomorrow, July 31, at 3pm.