Stuart Hogg will captain Scotland in the 2019 Guinness Six Nations Championship as Gregor Townsend announced a squad that represented at least a partial changing of the guard after the disappointment of the World Cup in Japan.
Hogg, now the senior player in terms of caps and experience, was a natural choice as captain even though the Scots haven’t been regularly skippered by an outside back since Chris Paterson in the early 2000s.
The British Lion did captain his country in a tour match against the USA in Houston – which Scotland lost – but has been a member of the squad’s leadership group for some time.
Three senior players – Greig Laidlaw, John Barclay and Tommy Seymour – have been lost to “official” international retirement but there’s no place in the 39-man squad for a number of experienced players who featured in Japan, notably Ryan Wilson, Gordon Reid, Peter Horne and Duncan Taylor.
Townsend has sprung his usual handful of surprises with spots for six uncapped players. The Gloucester lock Alex Craig was largely expected, but Glasgow’s back-up openside Tom Gordon, and the Edinburgh due of Nick Haining and Luke Crosbie are in, while there is no room for Blade Thomson or Matt Fagerson due to injuries.
Worcester’s Cornell du Preez, last capped in 2018 and who has recovered from a life-threatening throat injury since, wins a recall.
In the backs Huw Jones and Matt Scott both win recalls to the squad, but the big surprise is Glasgow’s wing Ratu Tagive, who has played only a handful of games for the Warriors and became residentially qualified only this year.
There’s no place for Edinburgh’s resurgent Mark Bennett or Glasgow’s Nick Grigg.
Forwards: Simon Berghan (Edinburgh), Jamie Bhatti (Edinburgh), Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh), Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Alex Craig (Gloucester), Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh), Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors), Allan Dell, Cornell du Preez (Worcester Warriors), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Tom Gordon (Glasgow Warriors), Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Nick Haining (Edinburgh), Stuart McInally, Willem Nel (Edinburgh), Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh), Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh), George Turner (Glasgow Warriors), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh).
Backs: Darcy Graham (Edinburgh), Chris Harris (Gloucester), Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors), Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs, captain), George Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Rory Hutchinson (Northampton Saints), Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors), Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh), Sean Maitland (Saracens), Byron McGuigan (Sale Sharks), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors), Henry Pyrgos (Edinburgh), Finn Russell (Racing 92), Matt Scott (Edinburgh), Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors), Ratu Tagive (Glasgow Warriors).