Vern Cotter’s selection for June’s matches against Japan remains focused on the core of the squad that have served him through the World Cup and Six Nations. Here’s the OTOTM summary of who’s in and who’s out since the initial RWC squad was named on 1st September 2015.
C – called-up to RWC squad as an injury replacement
Ex – included in the extended RWC training squad prior to the tournament
I – currently injured
R – retired
7s – being considered for GB 7s side for Rio Olympics
There are also a number of players who were brought into the Six Nations’ squad who have not subsequently been retained:
Alex Allan, Zander Fagerson
Pat MacArthur, George Turner
Adam Ashe, Blair Cowan, Chris Fusaro, Rob Harley, Hamish Watson
Of this group only Zander Fagerson, Blair Cowan and Rob Harley were actually included in a matchday 23 during the tournament.
Between all those involved in the extended squads for the RWC and Six Nations, Big Vern has taken a look at more than 50 players in the last 12 months and it appears he has now decided it’s time to focus on the heart of the group that will see the national side through to the next World Cup. It’s sometimes easy to forget that this is not an especially experienced group and they still have a lot of developing to do – almost half the squad have less than 20 caps and there are only 5 players with more than 50 previous appearances for Scotland.
Another factor in the selection is the number of new caps created during the last RWC cycle – 50 in total. With this in mind the start of this 4 year period was always likely to be quiet in terms of adding to the national squad – there’s just not that many players left who haven’t been tried! Looking at the top 30 players for each of Glasgow and Edinburgh there are only 5 who are Scotland qualified who have yet to be capped – with most of them still to cement a consistent place at Pro 12 level.
The head coach is well aware of the existing depth he has available in most positions but there are some key roles where he may wish to extend his options. With a strong group of players heading for the World Rugby U20 Championship in Manchester there are a number who will be serious prospects who could potentially strengthen the full Scotland squad within the next 2 to 3 years. Until that point it’s likely to be further gradual evolution of the existing group as Stern Vern tries to mould a side that can be consistently competitive and move up the world rankings.
More on the Scotland squad for the summer Tests – are some key squad members being overplayed? Check out We need to talk about: No rest for the wicked.