Scotland prop WP Nel is in doubt for the RBS Six Nations despite having just had three months rest and could be pulled out of the squad named by head coach Vern Cotter at Murrayfield this morning.
Nel will have a scan on an injury sustained against Harlequins in his comeback game on Saturday having been out since October resting a neck problem.
Edinburgh’s uncapped tighthead Simon Berghan, who has started just a handful of games for the capital side, is one of only two uncapped players named in the squad of 37 for the championship.
Cotter indicated that Nel’s participation in the entire championship hinged on the scan taking place later today.
“WP will be going for a scan later on tonight so we’ll get an idea whether if not he’s available for the competition, there is a doubt about him following the injury he had this weekend,” he said.
Cotter will also be without veteran prop Alastair Dickinson, who has a broken foot, potentially leaving the side without the two props so effective during last year’s championship that they were both being touted for British and Irish Lions selection.
Meanwhile Cotter has recalled Matt Scott, the Gloucester centre and Edinburgh stand-off Duncan Weir, both of whom were omitted from the Autumn Tests squad. Newcastle tight-head Jon Welsh is also recalled after some outstanding displays in the Aviva Premiership.
Cornell du Preez, who completed his three-year residency in the autumn, has been selected over clubmate Magnus Bradbury and is the other uncapped player in the side.
Cotter described the challenge of his final Six Nations before he moves on in June as “brutal”.
“The Autumn Series have been reasonably comforting to us and then it hasn’t always translated to the Six Nations as good,” he said.
“We know where we are in World Rugby, we know the teams we play are ranked better than us bar one. Every one of those teams are improving, we’re trying to improve and I think we have.
“The challenges are there, our aim is to win every game but we’re realistic. Our aim will be to nail each one and for the players to perform at their best.
“But this is brutally tough. England are improving, Ireland are improving at the top of their game, Wales have always been there, Italy are changing the way they play, and bonus points are going to change the way some teams play.
“I think you’ll see a few more risks in the game. This Six Nations will be slightly different than others, you’ve also got the ref’s interpretation of high tackles we also have to negotiate and there may be games we have to play with 14 men.”
Forwards: Alex Allan, Zander Fagerson, Gordon Reid (all Glasgow Warriors), Simon Berghan, Allan Dell, Willem Nel (all Edinburgh Rugby), Jon Welsh (Newcastle Falcons), Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Ross Ford, Stuart McInally (both Edinburgh Rugby), Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Richie Gray (Toulouse), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby), Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh Rugby), John Barclay (Scarlets), Cornell Du Preez, John Hardie, Hamish Watson (all Edinburgh Rugby), Rob Harley, Josh Strauss, Ryan Wilson (all Glasgow Warriors)
Backs: Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester), Ali Price, Henry Pyrgos, Finn Russell (all Glasgow Warriors), Duncan Weir (Edinburgh Rugby), Mark Bennett, Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors), Huw Jones (Stormers), Matt Scott (Gloucester), Duncan Taylor (Saracens), Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors), Damien Hoyland (Edinburgh Rugby), Sean Maitland (Saracens), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors), Tim Visser (Harlequins)