Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend wants his side to embrace the favourites tag when they head to the Americas on a four-match tour next month.  

Townsend has named 10 uncapped players in a 37-man squad for the games against Canada, USA, Chile and Uruguay, and has chosen to rest some of his established first-choice stars.  

Finn Russell, Blair Kinghorn, Ben White, Ali Price, Zander Fagerson, Richie Gray, Grant Gilchrist, Sam Skinner and Jack Dempsey are all left at home having featured during the Six Nations.  

Glasgow prop Nathan McBeth is joined by club colleagues Max Williamson and Gregor Brown among the 10 uncapped players.  

Leicester Tigers tighthead prop Will Hurd, Edinburgh hooker Patrick Harrison and his Northampton Saints counterpart Robbie Smith are also included.  

READ MORE: Ten uncapped players named in Scotland squad for summer tour

There’s a return for Arron Reed, the Sale Sharks winger who was involved in the Six Nations squad but did not earn a cap, while he’s joined by club colleague Gus Warr, who has played at age-grade level for both Scotland and England.  

Edinburgh centre Matt Currie is rewarded for a breakthrough season, while there is a first call-up for Ewan Johnson, the former Scotland under-20 lock who spent time in the Racing 92 academy and is currently with Oyonnax.  

Townsend explained the rationale some of those selections when he faced the press on Wednesday afternoon.  

Of Johnson, he said: “What we’ve seen over the last few weeks is someone who is physically capable of playing at the highest level. He’s 6ft 8in, about 125kg, and he shows that physicality when he plays.  

“There’s some areas of the game that he can improve, but in general he’s someone who has a very good set piece, carries the ball well, is skillful, and that size will help him in the set piece and in other areas. 

Scotland head coach Gregor TownsendScotland head coach Gregor Townsend (Image: SNS)

“He wasn’t playing in the first half of the season, so he’s only come back on our radar in the last couple of months - and we’ve been very impressed with how he’s played.”    

Townsend also talked up the qualities of scrum-half Warr, who was born in England but represented Scotland at under-18, under-19 and under-20 level, but also played for the land of his birth in the oldest of those age groups.  

Townsend said: “He’s made it clear over the last year or two that he’s very keen to play for Scotland.  

Gus Warr in action for Sale Sharks against SaracensGus Warr in action for Sale Sharks against Saracens (Image: PA)

“He’s someone who’s been very consistent, the fundamentals of his game, his passing and kicking, are at a high level. I felt since the Six Nations his game has gone up a level."  

While there is a need to build depth in some positions, Townsend – who said Ali Price and Ben White were not considered – was happy with the depth at scrum-half.  

He added: “With George Horne having a brilliant season and who played really well for us over in Italy and Jamie Dobie coming through we feel that nine is a really strong position now.” 

Townsend said he was impressed by the performances of Gregor Brown for Glasgow in South Africa.  

Brown, usually a back-row, was asked to step into the second row in the matches against the Lions and Bulls, and impressed Townsend and his coaching staff. 

“He really fronted up there.  

“Two years ago, he started at openside against Leinster in a quarter-final for Glasgow, so he’s someone who can play across the back row and now second row too. We love his toughness.” 

It has taken time for South African-born McBeth to become a regular fixture in Franco Smith’s Glasgow side, and it’s the consistency of his performances that has won the 26-year-old a seat on the plane. 

Townsend praised Nathan McBeth's consistency with GlasgowTownsend praised Nathan McBeth's consistency with Glasgow (Image: SNS)

Townsend said: “His scrummaging has really improved, or got to a level where he’s part of a dominant Glasgow scrum – whether with it's him or Jamie [Bhatti] at loosehead. We love his competitiveness as well. He brings a bit of niggle whenever he plays.”  

With George Turner rested, Stuart McInally and Fraser Brown both retired, former Scotland U20 captain Robbie Smith earns a first call-up.  

Townsend described the Northampton man as a "passionate Scottish rugby player desperate to play for his country.”  

He added: “We saw enough last season and in parts of this season that he has got the game that can make the step up to Test rugby.  

“He’s very solid in the set-piece and very competitive outside of that. We know he’ll be desperate to play and play well for Scotland.” 

Patrick Harrison also gets a first call-up despite having played just 38 minutes of rugby for Edinburgh this season.  

Edinburgh hooker Patrick Harrison is included despite a lack of minutes for the capital club this seasonEdinburgh hooker Patrick Harrison is included despite a lack of minutes for the capital club this season (Image: SNS)

Townsend said his performances with Edinburgh ‘A’ in the Super Series caught the eye and won him a place over Glasgow pair Angus Fraser and Gregor Hiddleston.  

He said: “Paddy Harrison is a great story of someone who has not had the opportunities with Edinburgh over the last few weeks but has played really well in those three games for Edinburgh ‘A’.” 

And while the tour will have a focus on development, Townsend said the number one priority will be to win all four games.  

“We are here to win,” Townsend said.  

He added: “There are a lot of challenges but it's great for us to go here when we'll be favourites in all four games and back up that favourites tag with a real focused, relentless performance every time we play." 

Townsend also revealed the squad will be cut for the South American leg of the tour with players from clubs outwith Scotland unable to feature in the finale against Uruguay as that match is outside World Rugby’s Test window. 

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Edinburgh lock Rob Carmichael, Glasgow scrum-half Ben Afshar and Glasgow-bound prop Fin Richardson will join the squad in South America as ‘development players’ but they could be in the mix for selection.  

Glasgow scrum-half Ben AfsharGlasgow scrum-half Ben Afshar (Image: SNS)

Townsend said: “Those three [extra] players are coming out for that opportunity to train at Test level, but they’re also coming out as cover if we do have injuries or call-offs closer to the game.” 

The Scotland head coach has not named a captain and plans to share the responsibility throughout the tour.  

He added: “We’re looking at continuing with the co-captaincy in some form.  

“We feel that gives another person a chance to really grow as a leader. And the leadership will be shared throughout those four games.”