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Brave new dawn: Cotter names six uncapped players

Vern Cotter has not yet reached Edinburgh, but there was clear evidence that the new national coach will blow a wind of change through Scottish rugby in yesterday's announcement of the squad - or rather squads - for the upcoming tour to the USA, Canada, Argentina and South Africa.

The selections were billed as a collaborative effort between Cotter and outgoing caretaker coach Scott Johnson, but the inclusion of six uncapped players signals a change of direction as clearly as does the omission of some who have been stalwarts of the Test side these past few years.

The most notable newcomer is Finn Russell, the tyro fly-half who has guided Glasgow Warriors into the final of the RaboDirect PRO12 competition. Russell, 21, will be joined by club colleagues Gordon Reid, Alex Allan and Kevin Bryce, plus London Irish loose forward Blair Cowan and Edinburgh scrum-half Grayson Hart.

The squad is made up of two separate, though overlapping, groups. As the final match of the tour, against the Springboks in Port Elizabeth on Saturday 28 June, falls outside the Test window, no exile players would be released, but only Scottish-based players will play in the Argentina match as well.

There will be no involvement whatsoever for Al Kellock, the Glasgow Warriors captain. It seems that the 32-year-old, 56-times-capped lock has suffered from the fact that competition in his area is more intense than ever.

It is understood Euan Murray asked not to be considered while he seeks a new club and Ryan Grant's battered body requires rest and repairs.

That Nick De Luca, Richie Vernon and James Eddie have not been named suggests that they could be called in to bolster the Scotland Commonwealth Games sevens squad which will be named today. Intriguingly, Tim Visser has been picked for the North America leg of the tour, but not the later games, leading to speculation that he, too, could be part of the sevens effort.

Cotter said: "We've included a mix of the battle-hardened and promising new talent and it will be good to see how players step up to tough and different challenges at the end of a long campaign."

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