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No Russell in Scotland squad of 40 that has three uncapped players

By PA
(Photo by PA)

Racing 92 fly-half Finn Russell has been left out of the Scotland squad for the Autumn Nations Series while Jamie Ritchie takes over the captaincy. Russell was given the summer off as Scotland toured South America, alongside several other players who had featured on the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa the previous year, but he has not been brought back into the fold by head coach Gregor Townsend for games against Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and Argentina at BT Murrayfield.

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Edinburgh’s Blair Kinghorn, Adam Hastings of Gloucester and Glasgow’s Ross Thompson will battle for the No10 jersey. Russell was dropped for Kinghorn for Scotland’s final Guinness Six Nations match in March after it emerged he was one of six players to have breached team protocol by going out drinking in Edinburgh after returning from their win in Italy the previous weekend.

Then skipper Stuart Hogg was among the group, all of whom have been selected for this Scotland squad with the exception of Russell and Sam Johnson, who suffered a broken jaw while playing for Glasgow at the weekend. Hogg was also left out of the summer tour and has been replaced as captain by Ritchie, who missed the Test series against Argentina through injury.

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Townsend had insisted while naming his summer squad that the breach of discipline after the Italy game had no bearing on his selection and the issue had been ironed out. Russell had previously fallen out with Townsend following a similar breach of protocol ahead of the 2020 Six Nations, although the pair had repaired their relationship.

Three uncapped players have been included in the 40-strong selection. Australia international Jack Dempsey has been called up after switching allegiances while his uncapped Glasgow teammates Murphy Walker and Stafford McDowall are also included in Townsend’s squad.

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Dempsey won 14 caps for Australia but has been able to join the Scotland set-up under recently-introduced World Rugby rules that allow players to change sides following a three-year period of international inactivity. Richie Gray has been given the chance to add to his 67 caps, the last of which came in the 2021 Six Nations.

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Scotland will open their account against Australia on October 29, a game where they will only be able to select their home-based players due to the match falling outside the international window. There are no restrictions for the November games versus Fiji, the All Blacks and Argentina.

Scotland Autumn Nations Series Squad
Forwards (22)
Ewan Ashman (Sale Sharks) 4 caps
Josh Bayliss (Bath Rugby) 3 caps
Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) 22 caps
Dave Cherry (Edinburgh Rugby) 7 caps
Andy Christie (Saracens) 3 caps
Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh Rugby) 2 caps
Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) 23 caps
Jack Dempsey (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped
Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 24 caps
Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 50 caps
Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) 55 caps
Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs) 69 caps
Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 67 caps
Nick Haining (Edinburgh Rugby) 11 caps
WP Nel (Edinburgh Rugby) 48 caps
Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby) – CAPTAIN – 32 caps
Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh Rugby) 12 caps
Sam Skinner (Edinburgh Rugby) 22 caps
Rory Sutherland (Ulster Rugby) 20 caps
George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) 27 caps
Murphy Walker (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped
Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby) 51 caps

Backs (18)
Mark Bennett (Edinburgh Rugby) 27 caps
Darcy Graham (Edinburgh Rugby) 29 caps
Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby) 36 caps
Adam Hastings (Gloucester Rugby) 26 caps
Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) 93 caps
George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) 17 caps
Damien Hoyland (Edinburgh Rugby) 4 caps
Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby) 34 caps
Stafford McDowall (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped
Rufus McLean (Glasgow Warriors) 3 caps
Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) 54 caps
Cameron Redpath (Bath Rugby) 2 caps
Ollie Smith (Glasgow Warriors) 1 cap
Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors) 5 caps
Ross Thompson (Glasgow Warriors) 3 caps
Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors) 7 caps
Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby) 19 caps
Ben White (London Irish) 6 caps

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