Four South Africans, including uncapped duo Duhan van der Merwe and Oli Kebble, have been included in Scotland’s 40-man squad for the revised 2020 Test season.
Scotland will compete in the forthcoming autumn international matches, which include the conclusion of the 2020 Six Nations and newly-launched Nations Cup.
Coach Gregor Townsend called up three uncapped players in Kebble (Warriors prop), Van der Merwe (Edinburgh wing) and Scott Steele (Harelquins scrumhalf).
Van der Merwe and Kebble are joined in the squad by compatriots WP Nel and Cornell du Preez, who have earned 38 and seven Test caps for Scotland, respectively.
Among the 23 forwards, five players did not feature in the Six Nations earlier this year. They are Warriors trio Richie Gray (lock), Rob Harley (loose forward) and Kebble, alongside London Irish flank Blair Cowan, who won his last Scotland cap in 2016 and earns his first call-up under Townsend, as well as Scarlets loose forward Blade Thompson who rejoins the squad having last featured at Rugby World Cup 2019.
In the 17 backs selected, there are returns for Harlequins centre James Lang, who last featured in the national side in 2018, as well as Glasgow centre Nick Grigg and Edinburgh wing Damien Hoyland, together with squad debutants Van der Merwe and Steele.
Racing 92 flyhalf Finn Russell also joins the squad, with an opportunity to earn his 50th cap during the upcoming international campaign.
Commenting on his selections, Townsend said: ‘We’re looking forward to coming back together as a coaching and playing group after such an unprecedented and challenging period in our sport and across society in general.
‘There was a strong feeling that we were growing as a team during the Six Nations earlier this year, making progress from game to game as well as building closer bonds within the squad. Our aim is to keep this momentum going as we take on Georgia and Wales before competing in the Nations Cup in November.
‘The squad we have selected is formed by the majority of the players we worked with in the Six Nations alongside players who have grabbed their opportunity in the past few weeks and have been in form for their respective teams.
‘Given the lack of games since March, there will be opportunities for players outside the squad to break into our group over the next few weeks, but for now the focus is on this group that will be in camp from tomorrow. It will be great to see some familiar faces, welcome a few back into our squad and also introduce some new players to Test-match rugby.’
Scotland begin their season with matches at Murrayfield against Georgia on 23 October before facing Wales in Llanelli on 31 October in the rescheduled 2020 Six Nations fixture.
The Nations Cup begins in November with Scotland in Pool B alongside France and Fiji, who they will play at Murrayfield as well as an away Test against Italy.
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