South African speed and power in Scotland squad
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: South Africans Oliver Kebble and Duhan van der Merwe have been included in Scotland’s squad for the conclusion of the 2020 Six Nations and newly launched Nations Cup.
They are two of three uncapped players with the other being Harlequins scrumhalf, Scott Steele.
Edinburgh wing Van der Merwe and Glasgow Warriors prop Oli Kebble are not the only South African-born players in the squad. The others are Cornell du Preez and Willem Nel.
In the 23 forwards there are five players who did not feature in the 2020 Six Nations earlier in the year, with Glasgow Warriors trio Richie Gray (lock), Rob Harley (back row/lock) and Kebble selected alongside London Irish flank Blair Cowan, who won his last Scotland cap in 2016 and earns his first call up under Townsend.
Scarlets’ Blade Thompson (back row) also re-joins the squad having last featured at Rugby World Cup 2019.
In the 17 backs selected there are returns for Harlequins centre James Lang, who last featured in the national side during June of 2018, as well as Glasgow Warriors centre Nick Grigg and Edinburgh wing Damien Hoyland, alongside squad debutants Van der Merwe and scrumhalf Steele.
Racing 92 flyhalf Finn Russell also joins the squad, with an opportunity to earn his 50th Scotland cap during the campaign.
Scotland coach Gregor Townsend said: “We are very much looking forward to coming back together as a coaching and playing group after such an unprecedented and challenging period in our sport and across society in general.
“There was a strong feeling that we were growing as a team during the Six Nations earlier this year, making progress from game-to-game as well as building closer bonds within the squad. Our aim is to keep this momentum going as we take on Georgia and Wales before competing in the Nations Cup in November.
“The squad we have selected is formed by the majority of the players we worked with in the Six Nations alongside players who have grabbed their opportunity in the past few weeks and have been in form for their respective teams.
“Given the lack of games since March, there will be opportunities for players out-with the squad to break into our group over the next few weeks, but for now the focus is on this group that will be in camp from tomorrow. It will be great to see some familiar faces, welcome a few back into our squad and also introduce some new players to Test match rugby.”
Scotland begin their Test matches at Murrayfield against Georgia on Friday, October 23 before facing Wales in Llanelli on October 31 in the rescheduled 2020 Six Nations fixture.
The newly formed Nations Cup begins in November with Scotland in Pool B alongside France and Fiji who they will play at Murrayfield as well as an away Test match against Italy.