GREGOR TOWNSEND has added Scott Cummings and Kyle Steyn to his World Cup training squad after the pair finished the season in fine form when helping Glasgow Warriors defeat Ulster in the Guinness Pro14 semi-final before pushing Leinster all the way in the Grand Final at Celtic Park on Saturday.
The Scotland coach named his initial 42-man squad at the start of the month with space set aside for two players to force their way into contention, and this selection of former Scotland Under-20s captain Cummings as a fifth second-row in the squad suggests that Richie Gray‘s chances of making the tournament are slipping away. The 29-year-old is fighting back to full fitness after an injury-ravaged couple of seasons, but has only managed 40-minutes of rugby for Toulouse, against Perpignan last Saturday, in the three weeks since the initial squad was first announced.
If Gray gets some more time on the paddock during the French Top 14 play-offs over the next few weeks, and starts to recapture some of the form which made him such an important member of the national team earlier in his career, then there is nothing to stop Townsend offering a late call-up, but that doesn’t seem to be an outcome that the coach is actively contemplating at the moment.
“We are fortunate to have a number of very good second-rows available to us right now,” said Townsend. “With Richie Gray, Tim Swinson and Andrew Davidson also in contention for this remaining place in our World Cup squad, Scott’s selection is a testament to how well he has performed throughout the season and in particular over the past few weeks.
“Scott has played very well in some crucial games for Glasgow and has really taken his game to the opposition. He was impressive in his ball carrying, defence and his all-round work-rate on Saturday against Leinster and we look forward to working with him and the other four second-rows in our squad.”
South African born Steyn has been a revelation for Warriors since switching from the Scotland 7s set-up back in February, usurping internationalists Huw Jones and Nick Grigg to establish himself as first choice outside-centre in Dave Rennie’s squad, and he also provides versatility through his ability to play on the wing.
“Kyle has made an excellent impact since his debut for Glasgow earlier this season and has displayed strong defensive capabilities as well as a providing go-forward for his team when carrying ball,” said Townsend. “His versatility is a bonus. He started out playing on the wing for Glasgow, has moved into the centre and has performed equally well in both roles.
“With every game he has looked more assured and, from our point of view, he will primarily be considered a winger who can cover the centre position. We have others in our squad that we view more as centre/wings but I’m sure over the course of the summer Kyle will get the opportunity to show what he can do in both positions.”
The inclusion of Cummings and Steyn takes the Glasgow Warriors contribution to the extended squad to 19, all of whom will now be given time off to rest before checking into camp next month.
UPDATED SCOTLAND TRAINING SQUAD:
Backs (20): Darcy Graham (Edinburgh) 4 caps; Nick Grigg (Glasgow Warriors) 9; Chris Harris (Newcastle Falcons) 8; Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) 11; Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) 67; George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) 4; Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors) 41; Rory Hutchinson (Northampton Saints) uncapped; Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) 21; Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors) 4; Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) 11; Greig Laidlaw (Clermont Auvergne) 71; Sean Maitland(Saracens) 40; RWC 2015; Byron McGuigan (Sale Sharks) 8; Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) 24; Henry Pyrgos (Edinburgh) 27; Finn Russell (Racing 92) 44; Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) 50; Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped; Duncan Taylor (Saracens) 21.
Forwards (24): John Barclay (Edinburgh) 71; Simon Berghan (Edinburgh) 19; Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) 13; Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh) 7; Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) 42; Allan Dell (Edinburgh) 22; Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 3; Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 19; Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) 33; Gary Graham (Newcastle Falcons) 2 caps; Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 51; Stuart McInally (Edinburgh) 27; Willem Nel (Edinburgh) 29; Gordon Reid (London Irish) 34; Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) 10; Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs) 5; Grant Stewart (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped; Josh Strauss (Sale Sharks) 22; Blade Thomson (Scarlets) uncapped; Ben Toolis (Edinburgh) 18; George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) 5; Hamish Watson (Edinburgh) 25; Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors) 43.