Finn Russell Back In Scotland Squad For Autumn Internationals


Finn Russell Back In Scotland Squad For Autumn Internationals

Finn Russell returns to a 40-strong Scotland squad after missing the Six Nations matches in February and March for a breach of team protocol.

The star fly-half is joined by uncapped trio Scott Steele, Oli Kebble and Duhan van der Merwe, with the latter two qualifying on residency grounds.

Back row Blair Cowan, 34, is selected by head coach Gregor Townsend four-and-a-half years after his last cap.

“Finn has been available since the end of the Six Nations,” Townsend said.

“We had conversations towards the end of the Six Nations and on all way through the summer that have carried on as recently as a few days ago.”

Russell was suspended for his breach of protocol and departure from the camp, while he later criticised Townsend in a newspaper interview.

But the Racing 92 number 10, one game away from his half century of Scotland outings, told the BBC last month: “Everything’s better now with my relationship with Gregor.”

“The lockdown and time away from rugby and normal life allowed people to connect throughout the world and certainly we’ve connected a lot over that period and we want the best for him and the best for the Scotland team and we see them both coming together during this period,” Townsend said.

Another back in the fold is Glasgow Warriors lock Richie Gray, who last year rejected the chance to join Scotland’s World Cup training squad because of family reasons as he returned from injury.

Scotland warm up against Georgia at Murrayfield on 23 October before completing their delayed Six Nations campaign in Wales eight days later. With a visit to Llanelli to come, Scotland sit third in the table following wins over France and Italy.

Townsend’s side then compete in the new Autumn Nations Cup in November with games away to Italy and at home to France and Fiji.

The head coach stressed that some players on the fringes of the squad, or who will return from injury, could yet play themselves into it and pointed out that some players based in England had caught the eye on this occasion because the Covid-19 disrupted fixture schedule had forced clubs to more fully utilise their squads.

“Scott Steele has really kicked on this summer – from not having a contract when lockdown started to getting an opportunity with Harlequins and got himself into great condition and played really well and started on a number of occasions,” he said of the 27-year-old previously of London Irish.

Kebble, the 28-year-old prop, is rewarded for starting “very well” in his third season with Glasgow.

South Africa-born Van der Merwe gets his call up after what Townsend said was “his great form over the last couple of seasons for Edinburgh”.

“He’s obviously a very powerful player, a really fast player but also a player who has worked on parts of his game that needed improving from two or three years ago,” he said of the 25-year-old.

Townsend said that Cowan had caught his eye for London Irish even before the Six Nations and had “been outstanding since the restart” and is “in the physical shape of his life”.

Meanwhile, asked about Huw Jones, who has switched roles with Glasgow, Townsend said the 26-year-old would offer greater depth at full-back but could also be called upon in his original position at centre.

Scotland squad

Forwards: Simon Berghan (Edinburgh), Jamie Bhatti (Edinburgh), Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Blair Cowan (London Irish), Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors), Cornell du Preez (Worcester Warriors), Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs), Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors), Nick Haining (Edinburgh), Oli Kebble (Glasgow Warriors), Stuart McInally (Edinburgh), Willem Nel (Edinburgh), Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh), Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs), Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh), Blade Thomson (Scarlets), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh), George Turner (Glasgow Warriors), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh).

Backs: Darcy Graham (Edinburgh), Nick Grigg (Glasgow Warriors), Chris Harris (Gloucester), Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors), Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs), George Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Damien Hoyland (Edinburgh), Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors), Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh), James Lang (Harlequins), Sean Maitland (Saracens), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors), Finn Russell (Racing 92), Scott Steele (Harlequins), Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh), Duncan Weir (Worcester Warriors).

Finn Russell Back In Scotland Squad For Autumn Internationals


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