Brown excluded from Scotland squad

Date published: October 20 2014

Scotland coach Vern Cotter named Edinburgh lock Grant Gilchrist as captain of a 33-man squad selected for the 2014 Autumn Tests.

Scotland coach Vern Cotter named Edinburgh lock Grant Gilchrist as captain of a 33-man squad selected for the 2014 Autumn Tests.

Cotter has sprung a surprise by leaving Saracens back-row, and former Scotland skipper Kelly Brown, out of his squad.

Gilchrist is joined by a further five of his Edinburgh clubmen, for whom he is vice captain week in, week out, with a further 17 players coming from Glasgow Warriors, and 10 from clubs outside Scotland.

Among the group is just one uncapped player, 21-year-old outside centre, Mark Bennett, who scored twice in Glasgow Warriors’ five-try win over Bath in the European Rugby Champions Cup on Saturday.

Bennett was selected, but not capped, in last season’s Autumn Tests and missed Scotland’s summer tour because of commitments to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The honour of captaining the side represents a return for 24-year-old Gilchrist, who led Scotland twice during the summer tour, including a 21-19 victory over Argentina in Cordoba.

He will return to the role against the same opposition when the Tests get underway at Murrayfield next month, when Scotland face the Pumas on Saturday 8 November, before facing Rugby Championship winners New Zealand, at the same venue (15 November), followed by Tonga at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock (22 November).

“The most important thing for us, other than showing improvements in key areas, is developing an attack that will give us opportunities to score tries or earn points through teams being forced to infringe,” explained Cotter

“We want to develop, and impose, our style, will, and strategy on our opposition. We want to play well, and enjoy playing in front of our home crowd.”

Assessing Scotland’s opponents this autumn, Cotter added: “Argentina will offer us a very stern test, especially scrum time. They have good variety and move the ball well from nine, through the middle of the paddock and out the back.

“The All Blacks have just won the Rugby Championship and are the best team in the world, so we’ll have to be on our toes.

“They also have more variety in their kicking game so covering space in the back field will be important.

“Defensively, we’re going to get tested, which is good because we want to show that our defence has improved.

“Tonga will be the final big test psychologically, having come through two big games, to play away from BT Murrayfield, and needing to put in a good performance at Rugby Park in Kilmarnock.

“It’s essential that we show maturity, mental strength and adaptability throughout the series.

“We have a good group, but the most important thing is that we play for each other, we play for the shirt, and we enjoy what we do.”

In addition to the 33-man squad, Cotter has also invited three uncapped players to train with the national team: 18-year-old BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy prop Zander Fagerson and Edinburgh duo Hamish Watson (back-row) and Allan Dell (prop), each of whom show great promise.

Former Dundee High School pupil, Fagerson, has represented Scotland U18 and U20 already this year, and made his debut for the Warriors earlier this month.

Watson came through the ranks with Leicester Academy and the Scottish Exiles programme to represent his country at U19, U20 level and international Sevens, and has been in the form of his life for his club this season.

Dell joined Edinburgh Rugby in the summer and has played three times for the club since recovering from a pectoral muscle injury that ruled him out of the start of the 2014/15 campaign.

Educated at Queens College in Eastern Cape South Africa, he qualifies for Scotland through his grandmother, Joan Carmichael, who was born in Paisley and brought up in Edinburgh.

Scotland squad:

Forwards: Adam Ashe (Glasgow Warriors), Johnnie Beattie (Castres), Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Blair Cowan, Geoff Cross (both London Irish), Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford (both Edinburgh), Chris Fusaro (Glasgow Warriors), Grant Gilchrist (c) (Edinburgh), Robert Harley, Jonny Gray (both Glasgow Warriors), Richie Gray (Castres), Scott Lawson (Newcastle Falcons), Kieran Low (London Irish), Euan Murray, Gordon Reid (both Glasgow Warriors) Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan), Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors).

Backs: Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors), Chris Cusiter (Sale Sharks), Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors), Dougie Fife, Tom Heathcote (both Edinburgh), Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester), Sean Lamont, Sean Maitland, Finn Russell, Henry Pyrgos, Tommy Seymour (all Glasgow Warriors), Duncan Taylor (Saracens), Tim Visser (Edinburgh), Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors).