Strauss, Nel named in Scotland squad

Date published: June 2 2015

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South Africans Josh Strauss and WP Nel have been included in Scotland's 46-man extended training squad for the Rugby World Cup.

Experienced loose forwards Kelly Brown and Johnnie Beattie have not been named but head coach Vern Cotter has recalled Scarlets flanker Jon Barclay for the first time since 2013.

The group includes eight uncapped players: Allan Dell (prop), Damien Hoyland (wing), Nel (prop) and Stuart McInally (hooker) from Edinburgh plus Hugh Blake (back-row) Mike Cusack (prop), Rory Hughes (wing) and Strauss (back-row) are called up from Glasgow.

The 46-man group, which will be reduced to 31 for the tournament in England this September, will convene on Monday 15 June for a range of strength and conditioning tests.

Players from PRO12 champions Glasgow Warriors make up almost half the squad (22), with European Challenge Cup finalists Edinburgh Rugby providing 12, and clubs outside Scotland a further 12 – including English Premiership winners Jim Hamilton and Duncan Taylor, and Challenge Cup winner Greig Laidlaw.

"The selection process was made easier by some good performances from a number of players, especially in the latter part of the season," said Cotter.

"Hopefully the confidence the players have gained from their successes will filter through into the rest of Scottish rugby. We'll need that for this campaign."

Despite naming a 46-man training group, Cotter was keen to stress that the squad was by no means a closed group.

"Flexibility and being able to adapt are among our key themes as we move towards the final 31 and the Rugby World Cup. This is not a firmly fixed squad, it's a living document," he added.

"There are a number of players we've spoken to who will be working on things with their clubs and looking for form, and may well feature in our warm-up games as a chance to push for selection.

"We're working hard to be as cohesive as possible and push the limits of how far we can go.”

Those limits will be put to the test in a fortnight's time when the squad travel to train at high altitude in Font Romeu in the French Pyrenees, returning home for two months of skills, conditioning and tactical training at the home of Scottish rugby.

"Our priorities will focus on the major aspects of the game," added Cotter.

"Physically we'll be working very hard to find peak form. We know that teams play better in the Rugby World Cup, and we want to be one of those teams."

Extended Scotland squad: Rugby World Cup 2015

FORWARDS (25):

Prop (7):
Mike Cusack (Glasgow Warriors) – Uncapped
Allan Dell (Edinburgh Rugby) – uncapped
Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh Rugby) – 44 caps; 4 RWC appearances (2007 and 2011)
Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors) – 22 caps
Willem Nel (Edinburgh Rugby) – Uncapped
Gordon Reid (Glasgow Warriors) – 8 caps
Jon Welsh (Newcastle Falcons) – 4 caps

Hooker (3):
Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) – 8 caps
Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby) – 85 caps; 8 RWC appearances (2007 and 2011)
Stuart McInally (Edinburgh Rugby) – Uncapped

Second-row (6):
Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) – 8 caps
Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) – 13 caps
Richie Gray (Castres) – 44 caps
Jim Hamilton (Saracens) – 61 caps; 6 RWC appearances (2007 and 2011)
Robert Harley (Glasgow Warriors) – 15 caps
Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors) – 12 caps

Back-row (9):
Adam Ashe (Glasgow Warriors) – 5 caps
John Barclay (Scarlets) – 43 caps; 4 RWC appearances (2007 and 2011)
Hugh Blake (Glasgow Warriors) – Uncapped
Blair Cowan (London Irish) – 11 caps
David Denton (Edinburgh Rugby) – 25 caps
Josh Strauss (Glasgow Warriors) – Uncapped
Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan) – 44 caps; 3 RWC appearances (2011)
Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors) – 9 caps
Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby) – 1 cap

BACKS (21):

Scrum-half (4):
Chris Cusiter (Sale Sharks) – 70 caps; 6 RWC appearances (2007 and 2011)
Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh Rugby) – 5 caps
Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester) – 39 caps
Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors) – 13 caps

Fly-half (3):
Ruaridh Jackson (Wasps) – 25 caps; 3 RWC appearances (2011)
Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors) – 9 caps
Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors) – 18 caps

Centre (6):
Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors) – 7 caps
Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors) – 14 caps
Peter Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 7 caps
Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby) – 25 caps
Duncan Taylor (Saracens) – 12 caps
Richie Vernon (Glasgow Warriors) – 20 caps; 3 RWC appearances (2011)

Back-three (8):
Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) – 32 caps
Damien Hoyland (Edinburgh Rugby) – Uncapped
Rory Hughes (Glasgow Warriors) – Uncapped
Sean Lamont (Glasgow Warriors) – 93 caps; 8 RWC appearances (2007 and 2011)
Sean Maitland (London Irish) – 15 caps
Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) – 17 caps
Greig Tonks (Edinburgh Rugby) – 4 caps
Tim Visser (Harlequins) – 18 caps

Warm up schedule:
Saturday 15 August: Ireland v Scotland, Aviva Stadium, Dublin (kick-off 5pm)
Saturday 22 August: Italy v Scotland, Stadio Olympico, Turin (kick-off tbc)
Saturday 29 August: Scotland v Italy, BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh (kick-off 3.15pm)
Saturday 5 September: France v Scotland, Stade de France, Paris (kick-off 8pm GMT)

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