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Gregor Townsend lauds quality of 40-man squad announced for November Tests

Gregor Townsend has named his 40-man squad to play Wales, Fiji, South Africa and Argentina in their autumn schedule.

The team boasts uncapped trio Blade Thomson, Sam Skinner and Sam Johnson and will likely be captained by Greig Laidlaw.

Scarlets flanker Thomson qualifies through his grandfather and signed for the Welsh region from Super Rugby side Hurricanes before this season.

The same applies for Exeter Chiefs lock Skinner who is eligible for selection through his Ayr-born father, while Glasgow Players’ Player of the Year Johnson could line-up in midfield for Scotland after passing residency criteria.

It is a team featuring the return of several seasoned campaigners who missed out on June’s tour of the Americas, where Townsend’s side remained unbeaten in three Tests.

As preparation builds towards next year’s World Cup in Japan, the Scotland head coach said there was still a chance for new blood in the team.

“We now begin the last 12 months of our preparations for Rugby World Cup 2019 with four Test matches in four weeks, a similar challenge to the one we’ll face in Japan.

“We’ve named a 40-man group for this campaign, which highlights the quality of player that is now available to us and the competition for places.

“It also enables us to welcome more players into our training environment and hopefully give a few more players a taste of Test match rugby.

“It’s going to be an exciting year for the squad but our primary focus is fixed on performing well against Wales – familiar opponents who have already recorded a win against us this year.”

Townsend travels to the Principality Stadium in Cardiff to take on Wales on November 3 in their autumn opener.

Scotland 40-man squad for autumn internationals

Forwards: Alex Allan (Glasgow Warriors), Simon Berghan (Edinburgh), Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh), Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Allan Dell (Edinburgh), David Denton (Leicester Tigers), Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), Ross Ford (Edinburgh), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors), Murray McCallum (Edinburgh), Stuart McInally (Edinburgh), Willem Nel (Edinburgh), Gordon Reid (London Irish), Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh), Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs)*, Blade Thomson (Scarlets)*, Ben Toolis (Edinburgh), George Turner (Glasgow Warriors), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors).

Backs: Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors), Dougie Fife (Edinburgh), Chris Harris (Newcastle Falcons), Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors), George Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors)*, Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors), Lee Jones (Glasgow Warriors), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh), Greig Laidlaw (Clermont Auvergne), Sean Maitland (Saracens), Byron McGuigan (Sale Sharks), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors), Henry Pyrgos (Edinburgh), Finn Russell (Racing 92), Matt Scott (Edinburgh), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors).

Not considered through injury: John Barclay, Mark Bennett, Lewis Carmichael (all Edinburgh), Cornell du Preez (Worcester Warriors), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), Richie Gray (Toulouse), Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors), Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors), Duncan Taylor (Saracens).

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