Sunday 20 October 2019

Huw Jones left out as Scotland squad named for Rugby World Cup

Scotland Coach, Gregor Townsend and team captain Stuart McInally pictured with the Scotland team after the squad announcement at Linlithgow Palace.
Scotland Coach, Gregor Townsend and team captain Stuart McInally pictured with the Scotland team after the squad announcement at Linlithgow Palace.

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Huw Jones is the big-name omission from Scotland's World Cup squad, while rookie centre Rory Hutchinson has also missed out on a place in Gregor Townsend's selection.

Stuart McInally has been picked to captain the side for their opener with Ireland in Yokohama on September 22, ahead of former skippers Greig Laidlaw and John Barclay.

But the major news surrounds head coach Townsend's decision to leave both Glasgow centre Jones and his midfield rival form Northampton, Hutchinson, out of the 31-man squad.

Jones burst onto the Test scene with 10 tries in his first 14 appearances for the Dark Blues, but in the 18 months since he scored a sensational double in the 2018 Calcutta Cup win over England his form for club and country has dropped off considerably.

His deficiencies in defence have also counted against him, while a lack of experience appears to have contributed to the decision to leave Hutchinson behind, despite the 23-year-old making a late bid for selection with a brace on his first Scotland start during Saturday's win in Georgia.

With fit-again Saracens centre Duncan Taylor and Sam Johnson of Warriors the leading duo to start in the midfield, Townsend has opted to take Peter Horne - who can also fill in at 10 - and Chris Harris as cover.

Adam Hastings has also been given the nod as back-up to star man Finn Russell at stand-off, despite his ropey showing against France in Nice three weeks ago.

But Prop Jamie Bhatti has paid the price for his failure to impress during the five-try mauling inflicted upon his side at the Allianz Riviera, with Townsend deciding to take looseheads Allan Dell and Gordon Reid, plus the tighthead pair of Willem Nel and Zander Fagerson. Simon Berghan also gets a seat on the plane based on his ability to cover both sides of the scrum.

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Forwards Josh Strauss, Matt Fagerson and Magnus Bradbury also miss out, with Scarlets number eight Blade Thomson selected due to his ability to slot into the second row if necessary.

Bradbury has not featured at all during the Scots' three warm-up clashes so far due to a rib injury and his lack of action has cost him his place, even though second row Jonny Gray and hooker Fraser Brown - who also sat out the matches against France and Georgia - have both made the cut.

Glasgow hooker Grant Stewart and Sale wing Byron McGuigan have also been left disappointed.

New skipper McInally, speaking as he and the rest of the squad were unveiled at Linlithgow Palace, said: "It's a very proud moment. I ended up missing the last World Cup through injury, so this makes it all the sweeter.

"The focus is firmly on Georgia this Friday and putting in a good performance before we head off.

"I'm very fortunate that there is a number of players either side of me who have captained the team before, so I won't be short in that regard.

"We're just going to take every game that comes and try to win them all. If we can get out of the group, it's knockout rugby after that."

Scotland squad for the Rugby World Cup

Forwards (17): John Barclay, Simon Berghan, Fraser Brown, Scott Cummings, Allan Dell, Zander Fagerson, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Stuart McInally, Willem Nel, Gordon Reid, Jamie Ritchie, Blade Thomson, Ben Toolis, George Turner, Hamish Watson, Ryan Wilson

Backs (14): Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Adam Hastings, Stuart Hogg, George Horne, Pete Horne, Sam Johnson, Blair Kinghorn, Greig Laidlaw, Sean Maitland, Ali Price, Finn Russell, Tommy Seymour, Duncan Taylor.

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