Rugby World Cup
John Hardie shock inclusion in Scotland's Rugby World Cup squad
ESPN Staff
September 1, 2015
John Hardie runs with the ball avoiding incoming tackles.
John Hardie runs with the ball avoiding incoming tackles.© Teaukura Moetaua/Getty Images

Scotland coach Vern Cotter has sprung a surprise in his 31-man Rugby World Cup squad with John Hardie preferred in the back-row to Blair Cowan and John Barclay.

New Zealand-born Hardie has only played 57 minutes for Scotland and arrived in the country in mid-July having finished the season with the Highlanders. Cowan was long seen as the incumbent to the openside berth in the Scotland squad but Cotter has named just one genuine No.7 in Hardie.

Josh Strauss is also named in the squad with him qualifying for Scotland on September 19, the day after the start of the Rugby World Cup, while scrum-half Greig Laidlaw will captain the team. 

Cotter has also left out Ruaridh Jackson, Adam Ashe, Greig Tonks, Jim Hamilton and Hugh Blake while there is no place for centre Alex Dunbar who is still continuing his recovery from injury.

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Ruaridh Jackson, Adam Ashe, Greig Tonks, Jim Hamilton and Hugh Blake are also left behind.

Sean Maitland and Ryan Grant have shaken off injury troubles to claim their places but the Scots continue to sweat on the fitness of Alex Dunbar as he fights to recover from a knee ligament tear. He has not been named in the initial squad but could yet be called up if he can prove his cruciate has returned to full strength and someone else drops out.

Scotland, who have one final run out against France this Saturday, will also take on the United States, South Africa and Samoa as they bid to escape Pool B and make the quarter-finals.

Cotter said: "There's a good balance of strength, power and experience in this squad. The boys have worked hard to get there and I know they can't wait to get started.

"We've had a tough few months together but we knew right from start that it was 46 to be cut to 31 and it wasn't easy. But [the players left out] have helped this group move forward and they will always be a part of it." Scotland:

Forwards:

Alasdair Dickinson, Ryan Grant, WP Nel, Gordon Reid, Jon Welsh, Fraser Brown, Ross Ford, Stuart McInally, Jonny Gray, Richie Gray, Grant Gilchrist, Tim Swinson, David Denton, Josh Strauss, Ryan Wilson, John Hardie, Alasdair Strokosch

Backs:

Greig Laidlaw, Henry Pyrgos, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Finn Russell, Duncan Weir, Mark Bennett, Matt Scott, Peter Horne, Richie Vernon, Stuart Hogg, Sean Lamont, Sean Maitland, Tommy Seymour, Tim Visser

© ESPN Staff

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