Six Nations
Four new caps in Scotland squad
ESPN Staff
January 20, 2015
Greig Laidlaw captained Scotland impressively in the autumn and will continue to lead the side © Getty Images

Scotland coach Vern Cotter has named four new caps in his 34-man squad for the Six Nations, which will once again be led by Gloucester scrum-half Greig Laidlaw.

Scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22-year-old forwards Ben Toolis (lock) and Hugh Blake (back-row), and 24-year-old back-row Hamish Watson, who all play for Edinburgh, are the uncapped players inn the squad.

Blake's selection is the only major surprise as he is yet to appear for Edinburgh since joining from Highlanders in New Zealand in December.

There is once again no place in the squad for experience back-rowers Johnnie Beattie, John Barclay or Kelly Brown, as well as Lions prop Ryan Grant and veteran Sale scrum-half Chris Cusiter.

Besides the new caps, there are seven other Edinburgh players, with Greig Tonks, who made his debut on the 2013 summer tour, selected for the first time since his positional switch to stand-off from full-back. Centre Matt Scott also returns to the squad after injury.

Glasgow contribute 15 players to the squad, including eight backs. Exciting centre Mark Bennett is back after injury ruled him out of the final two autumn internationals.

Among those unavailable through injury are Cotter's first captain Grant Gilchrist, Adam Ashe, who was first-choice No.8 in the autumn, and stand-off Duncan Weir.

Scotland performed impressively in the autumn series, defeating Argentina and Tonga and narrowly being beaten by world champions New Zealand.

Of the new caps, Cotter said: "They have impressed me with their desire to go forward, and reflect the Scottish spirit of attacking and leading, to develop into impressive performers."

"We are approaching this 6 Nations looking to perform and develop," he continued. "It will be a great process for us and I know the players are looking forward to it. Obviously we'll be facing some very good sides, four of which are above us in the world rankings, however we have nothing to hide going into this year.

"We start with a very difficult game against France in Paris and we will prepare as best as possible for that game and adapt as the competition evolves.

"Every time they pull on the jersey they will want to express themselves fully, so it's with excitement that we look to the Six Nations, because we want to see how far we can compete, how well we can adapt, and how well we can equip ourselves in this very tough competition.

"I'm very confident that the players selected will underline the improvements we showed in the autumn as well as some others as the group continues to come together. We were all affected so positively by the support during the Autumn Tests, which really lifted the players and made them so proud to pull on the shirt and play here at Murrayfield. It's a great challenge."

Scotland squad:

Forwards: Hugh Blake (Edinburgh Rugby), Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Blair Cowan, Geoff Cross (both London Irish), David Denton, Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh Rugby), Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Richie Gray (Castres), Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby), Jim Hamilton (Saracens), Rob Harley, Euan Murray, Gordon Reid (all Glasgow Warriors), Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan), Ben Toolis, Hamish Watson (both Edinburgh Rugby), Jon Welsh (Glasgow Warriors).

Backs: Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors), Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh Rugby), Alex Dunbar, (Glasgow Warriors) Dougie Fife (Edinburgh Rugby), Stuart Hogg, Peter Horne (both Glasgow Warriors) Greig Laidlaw CAPTAIN (Gloucester), Sean Lamont, Sean Maitland, Henry Pyrgos, Finn Russell (all Glasgow Warriors), Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors), Greig Tonks, Tim Visser (both Edinburgh Rugby).

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