Stuart Hogg has turned down his Olympic opportunity to go to Japan with Scotland as Vern Cotter has picked a full-strength squad for the two tests in June.
Hogg, the player of the tournament in the RBS 6 Nations, and centre Mark Bennett were both approached by Great Britain Olympic officials to inquire about their availability for the sevens tournament in Rio de Janeiro in August.
Hogg appears to have rejected the offer with Scotland head coach Vern Cotter saying it has been the full-back’s decision whether to tour with Scotland or go to Rio. He’s part of a squad of 27 for the two games against the Brave Blossoms, at Toyota City on June 18 and in Tokyo a week later.
Bennett wants to investigate the Olympic opportunity further, with Cotter’s blessing, and is one of three notable names not in the squad. The others are 104-cap veteran Sean Lamont, and Duncan Weir, the stand-off in Scotland’s last test, the loss to Ireland in Dublin.
“It’s the choice Stuart made,” said Cotter. “It is an opportunity that has also been presented to Mark and he would like to consider it. We respect that and we will wait and see what happens.”
Meanwhile, Cotter was not tempted rest players after a gruelling season or to experiment with youth against Japan, a rising force in World Rugby after their outstanding World Cup, and has picked a formidable group.
“We wanted continuity from the 6 Nations,” he said. “We weren’t happy with the last game we played against Ireland, so this gives us an opportunity to assess that and get over to Japan.”
The need to maintain a high world ranking with the draw for next Rugby World Cup – also in Japan – a year away did not come into his thinking either.
“We are not contenders for anything,” he pointed out. “We know where we are. We have a lot of work to do to, we are a good team but we are not a top team yet and need to work through that.
“(Fatigue) was taken into consideration and it is a worry for us. The fact that Edinburgh have finished their season gives those players an opportunity now to have a breather. Glasgow, hopefully they’ll go right through the PRO12 playoffs and that dynamic will then push them through to helping the team.
“We’ve still got a lot to develop and rather than chop and change we want to work with the core group that we have.”
Lamont’s omission appears to have come as a result of taking Damien Hoyland, capped in the World Cup warm-ups and an effective strike weapon for Edinburgh this season.
“I think there will be a few changes because of injuries; we’re not 100 per cent sure of where Alex Dunbar is after his injury on Saturday,” continued Cotter.
“I spoke to Sean (Lamont) last night. It is a conversation you don’t like having with players because he would like to be involved, but he’s stayed available. Glasgow have a bit of rugby to play so he could be on the plane going there, as could other players.
“He is fully professional so we know we can count on him getting on the plane with us if we need him.”
Forwards: Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh), Willem Nel (Edinburgh), Moray Low (Exeter Chiefs), Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh), Ross Ford (Edinburgh), Stuart McInally (Edinburgh), Fraser Brown (Glasgow), Jonny Gray (Glasgow), Richie Gray (Castres), Tim Swinson (Glasgow), John Barclay (Scarlets), David Benton (Bath), John Hardie (Edinburgh), Josh Strauss (Glasgow), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow).
Backs: Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester, capt), Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow), Finn Russell (Glasgow), Ruaridh Jackson (Wasps), Alex Dunbar (Glasgow), Peter Horne (Glasgow), Duncan Taylor (Saracens), Damien Hoyland (Edinburgh), Sean Maitland (London Irish), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow), Tim Visser (Harlequins), Stuart Hogg (Glasgow).