Scotland hand captain's armband to Hogg
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: Stuart Hogg has been named Scotland captain for the 2020 Six Nations.
The two-time championship player of the tournament (2016 and 2017) and British & Irish Lion is the most experienced player in the 38-man squad selected by Townsend, starting 71 of his 72 caps to date.
Reflecting on the appointment Townsend said: “Stuart is very passionate about playing for Scotland and he’s determined to do all he can to improve Scotland. He really cares about playing for his country, what the jersey represents and also getting the best out of his teammates.
“He’s a really intelligent rugby player who’s is learning and improving with every season. He’s very good at bringing others into the game and building relationships with those around him.
“He’s very well respected by our coaching and playing group but that isn’t based on the accolades he’s earned. It’s more about what he does every day at training.
“He brings energy, is very accurate, he stays out to longer to work on his game and more often than not he’s the loudest player on the field, guiding or congratulating his teammates.
“He really wanted to take on the honour and responsibility of being captain, which was a huge positive and – having heard his plans for how he would work as a captain and work to bring the best out of others, while being able to focus on his own game – meant it became a relatively straightforward decision,”
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The 38-man squad includes six uncapped players – four forwards and two backs.
Glasgow Warriors trio Tom Gordon (back-row), Kyle Steyn (wing/centre) and Ratu Tagive (wing) are joined by Edinburgh back-row pair Luke Crosbie and Nick Haining, with Gloucester’s former Scotland U20 lock, Alex Craig, completing the group.
The squad also features the return of Edinburgh pair Matt Scott (centre) and Rory Sutherland (prop) – who last featured for Scotland in victories on the road over Australia (2017) and Japan (2016) respectively – as well as Worcester Warriors back-row, Cornell du Preez, who earned his most recent of six caps against Wales in 2018.
Townsend added: “We’ve put a bigger emphasis on form as a guide for our selection, with those picked backed to go out and grab their opportunity.
“A number of young players have broken through at their clubs, while the bulk of the squad [23/31] from Japan has been reselected based on some strong individual performances and huge effort throughout our World Cup camp.
“We’re on to our next campaign now and it’s going to be very tough given the competition we face. Ireland have only lost one championship game at home in the last five years, and England were in great form in Japan.
“There are some real quality players who have missed out on selection, either through injury or the form of others in the group and I’m sure they’ll continue to knock hard on the squad selection door throughout the Six Nations period.
“It’s a positive that we’ve depth in the number of positions and more players available to play than we did this time last season so let’s hope that continues over the duration of the tournament.”
Forwards: Simon Berghan, Jamie Bhatti, Magnus Bradbury, Fraser Brown, Alex Craig, Luke Crosbie, Scott Cummings, Allan Dell, Cornell Du Preez, Zander Fagerson, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Tom Gordon, Nick Haining, Stuart McInally, Willem Nel, Jamie Richie, Rory Sutherland, Ben Toolis, George Turner, Hamish Watson.
Backs: Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Adam Hastings, Stuart Hogg (captain), George Horne, Rory Hutchinson, Sam Johnson, Huw Jones, Blair Kinghorn, Sean Maitland, Matt Scott, Byron McGuigan, Ali Price, Henry Pyrgos, Finn Russell, Kyle Steyn, Ratu Tagive.