Vern Cotter has today announced his summer tour squad to face Japan next month and it contains a host of well known faces with few surprises. There are recalls for Henry Pyrgos, Fraser Brown and Damien Hoyland.
Vern Cotter, coach of Scotland watches players warm up before facing Tonga during the autumn test international match at Rugby Park on November 22, 2014 in Kilmarnock, Scotland. Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
Cotter has chosen a safe full strength squad
The Scotland coach has gone with experience over youth and has made the rare decision not to name a new cap in his squad. The most inexperienced players are Damien Hoyland, who has a single cap to his name having played in the Rugby World Cup warm up against Italy last August, and Rory Sutherland who played well in his debut off the bench against Ireland in the 6 Nations.
[blockquote author=”Vern Cotter” pull=”normal”]“We will be working on becoming smarter in the way that we look to win, with winning, of course, being our focus.”[/blockquote]
Furthermore it has been revealed that Glasgow Warriors centre Mark Bennett (pictured) has been left out so that he can focus on earning a place in the Olympic Rugby Team. The other omissions are Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Matt Scott and Duncan Weir.
WP Nel of Scotland putts his shoe back after loosing it in a tackle during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool B match between Scotland and USA at Elland Road on September 27, 2015 in Leeds, United Kingdom. Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
In a small squad of just 27 there is very little cover with Stuart Hogg being the only fullback listed for the tour (although Jackson and Maitland can do a shift there. It’s also something of a surprise that he’s not chosen to rest some of the key players like WP Nel who, thanks to the RWC, hasn’t had a break since the summer of 2014.
You have to assume that this signals just how seriously Cotter is taking the Japanese threat, the same Japanese team who shocked the rugby world when they beat the Springboks back in the RWC. We’ll just have to hope these players still have some petrol left in the tank and don’t pick up any injuries along the way. It’s fair to assume that there’ll be some reserves on standby.
[blockquote author=”Vern Cotter” pull=”normal”]“We are aware of the fact that the world rankings for the Rugby World Cup are ongoing, and that the only way we’ll influence those ranking positively is to win games”[/blockquote]
Most commentators had anticipated a more inexperienced squad with Cotter seeking to blood new players and add depth, but with the U20’s taking part in the World Championships this summer guys like James Ritchie, Scott Cummings and Blair Kinghorn will have to wait to make the step up.
One thing’s for sure, you couldn’t accuse the Scotland coach of taking the Japanese team lightly.
FULL SQUAD TO FACE JAPAN
What do you think of the squad selected? Let us know in the comments below.
Here’s what happened last time the two sides met in October’s Rugby World Cup.
Credit: World Rugby