Scotland will have “a harder edge” for the Six Nations after their heartbreaking Rugby World Cup quarter-final loss believes head coach Vern Cotter.
Cotter has named two uncapped players in props Rory Sutherland and 20-year-old Zander Fagerson as well as a number of currently injured players in his squad, and recalled a handful who missed out on the squad for the tournament in September and October, which ended with the Scots beaten by a controversial last minute penalty against Australia.
John Barclay, Moray Low, Pat MacArthur, Ben Toolis, Adam Ashe, Chris Fusaro and Ruaridh Jackson are all back in the picture having missed out in the final cut for the tournament, while centres Alex Dunbar and Duncan Taylor, injured in the autumn, also win recalls.
Cotter has included Mark Bennett, who will not require surgery on his injured shoulder, as well as Peter Horne, Sean Maitland, Ross Ford and Alasdair Dickinson, all currently out of action but reckoned to be available for the tournament, if not necessarily the opening match against England at BT Murrayfield on February 6.
Ryan Wilson, currently facing a lengthy ban for foul play if found guilty of squeezing a Northampton player’s testicles in Sunday’s European Cup game, is omitted but Cotter said the decision to leave him out was made before the weekend game.
Cotter has been watching closely since the World Cup but believes the “shared experience” of the tournament will be the crucial aspect.
“Some things went well but we weren’t totally happy with the tournament,” he said. “We now have to move again and take another step up, we know how difficult the Six Nations will be.
“I think what happened to us and the hard times we did go through during the World Cup will mean we have a harder edge going forward.”
Fagerson, from Kirriemuir, has played regularly for Glasgow this season and will see “some exposure” during the tournament, he added.
“It’s not easy being a 20-year-old tight-head learning your trade at the top level but he’s done very well, especially holding up the scrum against Northampton at the weekend,” added Cotter.
Hookers: Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby), Pat MacArthur (Glasgow Warriors), Stuart McInally (Edinburgh Rugby)
Props: Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh Rugby), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), Moray Low (Exeter Chiefs),
Willem Nel (Edinburgh Rugby), Gordon Reid (Glasgow Warriors), Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh Rugby).
Locks: Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Richie Gray (Castres), Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh Rugby)
Back row: Adam Ashe (Glasgow Warriors), John Barclay (Scarlets), Blair Cowan (London Irish), David Denton (Bath), Chris Fusaro (Glasgow Warriors), John Hardie (Edinburgh Rugby), Josh Strauss (Glasgow Warriors).
Scrum-half: Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh Rugby), Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester, capt)
Stand-off: Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors), Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors)
Centre: Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors), Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors), Peter Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby), Duncan Taylor (Saracens)
Back Three: Sean Lamont (Glasgow Warriors), Sean Maitland (London Irish), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors), Tim Visser (Harlequins), Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors), Ruaridh Jackson (Wasps).