Scotland head coach Vern Cotter has named uncapped props Zander Fagerson and Rory Sutherland in a 35-man squad for the upcoming Six Nations.
Glasgow Warriors’ tighthead Fagerson turns 20 on Wednesday, meaning he could become the fourth youngest prop in Scottish history, and the youngest to represent Scotland for more than half a century (since Bill Black debuted against France at Murrayfield 1948).
Fellow propping prospect Sutherland (23) earns selection through his increasingly impressive showings for Edinburgh since signing from Gala last season.
The young pair are among four changes to Scotland’s front-row options originally named for Rugby World Cup 2015, with 29-times capped Exeter Chiefs tighthead, Moray Low, and six-times capped Glasgow Warriors hooker, Pat MacArthur, earning selection for the first time since 2014.
Cotter said: “We’ve selected a mixture of experience with some exciting young players coming through, some of whom have experienced the Rugby World Cup and are eager to move forward, take the Six Nations head on and show that we can develop our game and be competitive.
“I think there should be confidence. The guys have worked hard and improved. There are positive signs that we can compete, and this Championship will give us another opportunity to measure ourselves against very good opposition in a tough competition.
“The guys believe that we can compete, dominate and secure victories in these games.”
Some 23 players capped during Rugby World Cup 2015 have earned reselection – six missing out, at this juncture, through injury (Fraser Brown, Grant Gilchrist, Henry Pyrgos, Jon Welsh, Richie Vernon) and retirement (Alasdair Strokosch) – while Cotter has rewarded the form of back-row forwards John Barclay (Scarlets), Adam Ashe and Chris Fusaro (both Glasgow Warriors), and versatile Wasps back Ruaridh Jackson, with selection.
Other notable inclusions see centres Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors) and Duncan Taylor (Saracens) recover from the injuries that ruled them out of last year’s international opportunities, despite winning PRO12 and Premiership titles respectively.
Scotland will once again be captained by Gloucester scrum-half Greig Laidlaw, who requires the same number of appearances (four) to mark a half-century caps and to equal David Sole’s record as most-times as Scotland captain (25).
Lock Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) and scrum-half Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors) have been invited to train with the squad when it convenes for a pre-Championship camp in St Andrews this Sunday, before returning to their clubs to continue their recovery from groin and wrist injuries respectively.
Scotland squad for the Six Nations 2016
Forwards: Ross Ford, Pat MacArthur, Stuart McInally, Alasdair Dickinson, Zander Fagerson, Moray Low, Willem Nel, Gordon Reid, Rory Sutherland, Jonny Gray, Richie Gray, Tim Swinson, Ben Toolis, Adam Ashe, John Barclay, Blair Cowan, David Denton, Chris Fusaro, John Hardie, Josh Strauss.
Backs: Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Greig Laidlaw (c), Finn Russell, Duncan Weir, Mark Bennett, Alex Dunbar, Peter Horne, Matt Scott, Duncan Taylor, Sean Lamont, Sean Maitland, Tommy Seymour, Tim Visser, Stuart Hogg, Ruaridh Jackson.
Injured players training with the squad: Grant Gilchrist, Henry Prygos