Vern Cotter Selects Six Nations Squad
19 January 2016, 11:31
Scotland head coach Vern Cotter has named uncapped props Zander Fagerson and Rory Sutherland in his 35-man squad for the RBS 6 Nations.
Glasgow centre Alex Dunbar also makes his return to the national team camp 10 months after a knee injury killed off his hopes of featuring at last year's World Cup.
However, there is no place for his Warriors team-mate Ryan Wilson, who faces a potentially lengthy ban after being cited for allegedly grabbing the testicles of Northampton's scrum-half Lee Dickson.
Wilson's place is taken by Scarlets flanker John Barclay, who was disappointed to be left out of the World Cup travelling party despite his impressive club form.
Glasgow 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 prospect Sutherland, 23, won a last-minute call-up ahead of the Scots' World Cup quarter-final defeat to Australia and has retained his slot after encouraging displays for Edinburgh.
The young pair are among four changes to Scotland's front-row options originally named for England 2015, with 29-times capped Exeter Chiefs tighthead Moray Low, and six-times capped Glasgow Warriors hooker Pat MacArthur returning to Cotter's group for the first time since the summer of 2014.
Ben Toolis will also look to add to the solitary cap he has won at lock, while back-rower Chris Fusaro is included after an 18-month exile.
In the backs, Dunbar hopes to bounce back after the cruciate ligament nightmare he suffered ahead of last year's Calcutta Cup clash with England. Saracens centre Matt Taylor and Wasps fly-hald Ruaridh Jackson are also given reprieves after missing out on the World Cup.
Cotter - who has once again picked Gloucester scrum-half Greig Laidlaw to lead the side out - 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 RBS 6 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.''
Cotter has his injury concerns, though, with prop Jon Welsh, hooker Fraser Brown, lock Grant Gilchrist, scrum-half Henry Pyrgos and centre Richie Vernon - who all featured at the World Cup - currently unavailable.
However, Gilchrist and Pyrgos have been invited to train with the squad when it meets for a pre-Championship camp in St Andrews this Sunday to help boost their recoveries.
Scotland kick-off their Six Nations at home to England on Saturday, February 6.