Head Coach Gregor Townsend has named the Scotland Six Nations 2018 squad for the latest edition of the annual tournament next month.
The potential debutants are Edinburgh Rugby trio Blair Kinghorn (full-back), scrum-half Nathan Fowles and prop Murray McCallum, plus Glasgow Warriors prop D’arcy Rae.
Kinghorn, McCallum and Rae are all graduates of the BT Sport Academy.
The squad is also boosted by the return of several experienced players, absent from recent campaigns, including scrum-half Greig Laidlaw (ASM Clermont Auvergne), lock Richie Gray (Toulouse), centres Mark Bennett (Edinburgh Rugby) and Duncan Taylor (Saracens); and Worcester Warriors back-row David Denton.
Laidlaw, Gray and Bennett haven’t featured for the dark blues since last year’s championship, while it was 2015 when returning prop Jon Welsh last saw international action and longer still for veteran hooker Scott Lawson (2014).
A sequence of untimely injuries has meant Denton has been absent from test duty since the 2016 summer tour to Japan, while Taylor and London Irish prop Gordon Reid missed the 2017 autumn test campaign with a knee and head injury respectively.
Scarlets back-row John Barclay will continue to captain the side since taking on the mantle from Laidlaw in last year’s championship, leading Scotland to victories in six of nine test matches.
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) January 16, 2018
Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend, said: “With the announcement of this 40-man squad, we are now entering the key stages of our preparation for this year’s NatWest 6 Nations Championship.
“It’s a bigger squad than we originally planned –which is largely down to the competition for places – with a number of players having performed well in the Autumn Tests and a few others putting their hands up for selection in recent weeks.
“We welcome Blair Kinghorn into our group for the first time, who has been in excellent form with Edinburgh this season, and also three of our most experienced players in Richie Gray, Greig Laidlaw and Scott Lawson.
“We are looking forward to working with them and the rest of the squad to ensure that we build on the momentum the players generated in 2017.”
In addition to the squad, three players have been invited to train with the group: Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh Rugby), Darcy Graham (Edinburgh Rugby) and Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors).