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Scotland's Townsend set to blood new talent in Six Nations

·3-min read
Gregor Townsend says such is the strength in depth now in Scotland he feels free to unleash new talent into the Six Nations

Gregor Townsend said such is the strength in depth in Scottish rugby he will be able to unleash new talent in the forthcoming Six Nations, after naming his tournament squad on Wednesday.

His side, who will be captained by full-back Stuart Hogg, face champions England first-up at Twickenham on February 6, bidding to regain the Calcutta Cup.

Townsend included uncapped Edinburgh hooker David Cherry, Sale hooker Ewan Ashman, Gloucester forward Alex Craig and Bath centre Cameron Redpath in his squad.

However, bolstered by an improved performance in last year's Six Nations which was backed up in the Autumn Nations Cup, Townsend sounded upbeat.

"The depth we have across the squad enables us to bring in some new players who have excelled in recent weeks and others who we believe can perform at Test level," Townsend said.

Townsend has selected just two scrum-halves in the experienced Ali Price and Harlequins' Scott Steele, who has only one cap to his name.

At fly-half Townsend has opted for Finn Russell, who missed the Autumn Nations Cup due to injury.

South Africa-born Jaco van der Walt, who made his debut in the Autumn Nations Cup third-place play-off defeat by Ireland, backs up Russell.

"Our tournament gets off to a fantastic start with a fixture we look forward to every year against England and the opportunity to win back the Calcutta Cup at Twickenham," he said.

"We are very aware how different this year's competition will be due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but it also provides a huge amount of positivity and enjoyment for millions of supporters."

And Townsend remained confident the tournament would be played to a finish despite coronavirus fears.

European club chiefs have suspended both the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup competitions after the French government voiced concerns about clubs travelling to Britain and Ireland, where a new variant of Covid-19 has taken root.

The UK government reported a record daily toll of 1,610 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, while England coach Eddie Jones had to self-isolate following assistant coach Matt Proudfoot's positive test.

Nevertheless, Townsend said: "I'm as confident as I can be. From these discussions a couple of weeks ago, when the European competitions got cancelled, there were obviously doubts over France's involvement and if the tournament would continue.

"But having gotten some feedback from the meeting around what each of the teams will have to do now, I think that has satisfied the French government and the competing nations... The testing and the isolating processes we had in place during the autumn prove that we can get through this tournament without the virus getting into our camp and spreading."

Squad

Backs: Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Stuart Hogg (capt), Huw Jones, Blair Kinghorn, James Lang, Sean Maitland, Byron McGuigan, Ali Price, Cameron Redpath, Finn Russell, Scott Steele, Duncan Taylor, Jaco van der Walt, Duhan van der Merwe

Forwards: Ewan Ashman, Simon Berghan, David Cherry, Alex Craig, Scott Cummings, Allan Dell, Matt Fagerson, Zander Fagerson, Gary Graham, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Richie Gray, Oli Kebble, Willem Nel, Jamie Ritchie, Grant Stewart, Rory Sutherland, Blade Thomson, George Turner, Hamish Watson

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