Four Edinburgh players called up to Scotland 6N squad

Scotland coach Vern Cotter has handed four Edinburgh players their first call-ups after naming his squad for next month’s RBS 6 Nations opener with France.

Four Edinburgh players called up to Scotland 6N squad

Scotland coach Vern Cotter has handed four Edinburgh players their first call-ups after naming his squad for next month’s RBS 6 Nations opener with France.

Scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and forwards Ben Toolis, Hugh Blake and Hamish Watson are all included after impressing for Alan Solomons Gunners.

Grieg Laidlaw, meanwhile, will continue to skipper the Dark Blues in Grant Gilchrist’s absence.

Hidalgo-Clyne, 21, has played a vital part in Edinburgh's recent resurgence having featured in every fixture so far this season, while 22-year-old back-rower Watson is set to make his full international debut after playing his way through the Scottish youth ranks.

Toolis, 22, has stepped into the breach for Edinburgh, replacing injured lock Gilchrist for club, and now country, while the capital club’s new recruit Blake comes into the squad for the first time having arrived in Scotland from Super Rugby side, Highlanders, in December.

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter said: “All these players have worked hard and have shown great ambition to seize this opportunity. That’s the type of player we want in this environment.

“They have impressed me with their desire to go forward, and reflect the Scottish spirit of attacking and leading, to develop into impressive performers.”

The quartet will join a further seven of their capital club-mates, including Greig Tonks, selected for Scotland for the first time since his positional switch to stand-off, having made his first and only international appearance at full-back against Samoa on the 2013 summer tour.

The squad is also boosted by the return of 21-times capped centre Matt Scott, who missed last year’s summer tour and autumn Test campaign with shoulder and hand injuries.

Despite the strong capital contingent, Glasgow Warriors – currently second in the Guinness Pro12 – continue to contribute the majority of the squad, with 15 players all in.

Among them is centre Mark Bennett, who has shaken off a hamstring injury to return to the fold.

Rob Harley is also included despite suffering knee and ankle knocks against Edinburgh last month.

Tight-head prop Jon Welsh, absent for the November clashes with Argentina, New Zealand and Tonga through a shoulder injury, also earns a recall, while Peter Horne could feature for the first time since the summer tour.

Injuries rule out Gilchrist, Adam Ashe,Chris Fusaro, Tyrone Holmes, Ruaridh Jackson, Duncan Taylor and Duncan Weir.

Also among those left out are former skipper Kelly Brown and John Barclay, despite impressive seasons with club sides Saracens and Scarlets.

Experienced campaigners Chris Cusiter, Johnnie Beattie, Scott Lawson and Tim Swinson are also dropped – as are Ryan Wilson and Ryan Grant, both of whom are currently on trial for assault.

Cotter added: “We are approaching this RBS 6 Nations looking to perform and develop.

“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.”

Cotter continued: “The players will want to characterise the traditional traits of the Scottish game; attacking with ferocity, destabilising the opposition and trying to play smart.

“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 BT Murrayfield. It’s a great challenge.”

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