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Munro to coach Scotland A

21st January 2014 11:42

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In as a back: Richie Vernon

Glasgow assistant coach Shade Munro has been confirmed as head coach of Scotland A for their game against the Saxons at Scotstoun later this month.

Munro will be assisted by fellow Glasgow coach Kenny Murray and Edinburgh assistant coach Stevie Scott for the match on Friday, January 31.

The coaching trio named a 23-man squad for the fixture, comprising of twelve Glasgow Warriors, six Exiles and five players from Edinburgh.

Five of the A squad are currently training with the senior Scotland squad and Munro and Scotland head coach Scott Johnson are liaising closely to give both teams - Scotland open their Six Nations campaign against Ireland in Dublin two days after the A match - the best chance of success.

Johnson and Munro also subscribe to the belief that the A team is a means of finding out whether players are ready and able to win promotion to the senior side, whether now or in the future.

"This is a game the players and supporters all look forward to as it's a one-off match and it's fantastic that we're playing the game in Glasgow this year for the first time," Munro told scottishrugby.org.

"I'm delighted to have been named head coach once again and after last year's victory down in England and our success at Netherdale two years ago, we're looking to try to continue our good record against the Saxons."

The squad comprises ten players who would be making their first appearance for Scotland A - forwards Olly Atkins, Fraser Brown, Kevin Bryce, Blair Cowan, Jonny Gray, Tyrone Holmes and Kieran Low; and backs Byron McGuigan, Mark Bennett and Grayson Hart.

At the opposite end of the experience spectrum is Ally Hogg, the 48-times full-capped back-row forward, who celebrated his 31st birthday on Monday. Hogg has not played for Scotland since the 2009 Six Nations and, indeed made his Scotland A debut against Romania, 12 years ago, but his form at Newcastle Falcons has been monitored closely by the coaches.

Elsewhere, two younger forwards who won full caps during the November Tests, former Scotland U20 captain Jonny Gray and London Irish back-rower Kieran Low, are listed, Gray having worked hard to be ready to return from injury, while three of the props who featured in last year's heroic victory at Kingston Park, Jon Welsh, Gordon Reid and Grant Shiells, are primed for front-row duty.

In the backs, Richie Vernon's rapid education as a centre three-quarter, continuing his transformation from a back-row forward, is set for another step-up.

"We'll be coming together as a squad next week. I'm pleased with the mix of promising young talent and hard-nosed experience that we have in the squad and we'll look forward to performing at Scotstoun," added Munro.

Scotland A

Forwards: Olly Atkins (Edinburgh Rugby), Fraser Brown, Kevin Bryce (both Glasgow Warriors), Blair Cowan (London Irish), Jonny Gray, Robert Harley (both Glasgow Warriors), Allister Hogg (Newcastle Falcons), Tyrone Holmes, Ed Kalman (both Glasgow Warriors), Kieran Low (London Irish), Gordon Reid (Glasgow Warriors), Grant Shiells (Newcastle Falcons) and Jon Welsh (Glasgow Warriors).

Backs: Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors), Jack Cuthbert, Dougie Fife (both Edinburgh Rugby), Alex Grove (Worcester Warriors), Grayson Hart (Edinburgh Rugby), Tom Heathcote (Bath Rugby), Byron McGuigan, Henry Pyrgos (both Glasgow Warriors), Greig Tonks (Edinburgh Rugby) and Richie Vernon (Glasgow Warriors).

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