Autumn Nations Series: Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend seeks right blend for Scotland
Townsend has named 12 uncapped players, including South Africa-born forwards Pierre Schoeman and Dylan Richardson in his squad for this autumn's Tests; Scotland face Tonga, Australia, South Africa and Japan at Murrayfield this year
Last Updated: 20/10/21 1:32pm
Gregor Townsend has named 12 uncapped players in the Scotland squad for the four upcoming Tests in this year's Autumn Nations Series.
Edinburgh trio Marshall Sykes, Jamie Hodgson and Luke Crosbie, South Africa-born pair Pierre Schoeman - also Edinburgh - and Dylan Richardson, plus Rory Darge (Glasgow Warriors), Ewan Ashman (Sale Sharks) and Josh Bayliss (Bath) are the new faces in the pack.
Along with flanker Darge, Glasgow provide all the uncapped backs in Rufus McLean, Jamie Dobie, Ross Thompson and Sione Tuipulotu, and head coach Towsend believes the squad has a good balance as Scotland prepare for their opening match against Tonga on October 30.
"It's exciting to bring together a blend of highly experienced and uncapped players for our first week of the Autumn Nations Series campaign," Townsend said.
"There have been some notable performances from both our home-based players and those at clubs outside of Scotland, which has enabled us as coaches to select a group which are playing well and will be motivated across the four games.
"We also feel that this is the right time to bring in some younger players given their early season form. They have created opportunities for themselves to represent their country and we believe that they will thrive in the Test match environment."
At the more experienced end of the scale, Scotland welcome all of their British & Irish Lions representatives in captain Stuart Hogg, half-backs Ali Price and Finn Russell, Chris Harris, Duhan van de Merwe, Hamish Watson and props Zander Fagerson and Rory Sutherland back to a 42-man squad.
It's exciting to bring together a blend of highly experienced and uncapped players for our first week of the Autumn Nations Series campaign.
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend
They will get another chance to tackle South Africa on November 13 after the Springboks won this year's Test series against the Lions 2-1, with matches against Australia (November 6) and Japan (November 20) completing a busy autumn for Scotland.
"We face four tough matches in four weeks and Tonga, Australia, South Africa and Japan each present a different challenge and an opportunity to perform in front of our people at BT Murrayfield," Townsend, who was part of the Lions' coaching set-up for the summer tour, said.
"It's great to hear that we will now play Australia in front of a capacity crowd at BT Murrayfield, and it means a huge amount to the players to have this level of support."
Scotland Autumn Nations Series squad
Forwards: Ewan Ashman, Josh Bayliss, Jamie Bhatti, Fraser Brown, Luke Crosbie, Rory Darge, Matt Fagerson, Zander Fagerson, Grant Gilchrist, Nick Haining, Rob Harley, Jamie Hodgson, Oli Kebble, Murray McCallum, Stuart McInally, Dylan Richardson, Jamie Ritchie, Sam Skinner, Pierre Schoeman, Rory Sutherland, Marshall Sykes, George Turner, Hamish Watson
Backs: Mark Bennett, Darcy Graham, Jamie Dobie, Chris Harris, Adam Hastings, Stuart Hogg, George Horne, Damien Hoyland, Sam Johnson, Huw Jones, Blair Kinghorn, Duhan van der Merwe, Rufus McLean, Ali Price, Finn Russell, Matt Scott, Kyle Steyn, Ross Thompson, Sione Tuipulotu.