Vern Cotter has gone to Super Rugby rather than home ground to find his replacement for Finn Russell for next month’s tour to Japan and called up Stormers’ centre Huw Jones.
The Edinburgh-born 22-year-old, who has been rumoured as a possible target for the Scottish pro clubs for some time, will leave the Cape Town franchise team to join up with the Scottish squad before they leave for Japan in two weeks’ time.
Jones is a centre or wing which means that the Scots will head for the two tests in Toyota City (June 18) and Tokyo (June 25) with only Ruaridh Jackson as a recognised stand-off. The Wasps player hasn’t started in the position for Scotland since the Autumn test against South Africa in 2013.
It has been expected that Duncan Weir, who filled the 10 shirt in Scotland last test at the end of the Six Nations against Ireland in Dublin, would get the call after Russell’s severe head knock during the Glasgow’s Guinness PRO12 semi-final defeat at Connacht caused him to be hospitalised.
The 25-year-old, 23-times capped stand-off was already a surprise omission from the reduced 27-strong squad.
However it’s a clear indication that Cotter is going in a different direction to Weir, who is moving from the Warriors to Edinburgh this summer.
Peter Horne, who filled Russell’s role successfully after the stand-off was injured early in the Six Nations win over France, is likely the back-up or even challenging outright for the playmaking role.
Jones was schooled at Millfield in Somerset and had been tagged by Scottish Rugby’s scouts but only took up rugby seriously when on a gap year to South Africa in 2012.
He elected to stay and study at the University of Cape Town, winning the Varsity Cup in 2014 and scoring in the final, thereby gaining a cap for Western Province’s the under-21 squad and then the senior Vodacom Currie Cup team.
He then graduated to the Stormers Super Rugby set-up last year and has made 21 appearances for them to date, although all of his seven during this current season have been off the bench.
Jones said: “I’m delighted to get this opportunity to play for Scotland. It’s a dream come true.
“I didn’t go out to South Africa with the intention of becoming a professional rugby player but, as my career progressed, it become more of a realistic goal to play for Scotland.
“The call came as a bit of a surprise but I’m thrilled and can’t wait to get to Edinburgh next month and play my part in an exciting squad.”
Jones comes into a part of the Scotland squad where competition is already fierce. Horne, Duncan Taylor and Matt Scott are the touring centres with the injured Alex Dunbar and Olympic hopeful Mark Bennett also in the mix, as Cotter acknowledged.
“We’re pleased to welcome Huw into the group and look forward to him deepening the competition in an already well-contested area of our squad,” said the head coach.
Scotland meet up at BT Murrayfield a week on Monday (June 6) for a four-day training camp before flying to Japan on June 11.