Andy Robinson has announced his 34 man Scotland squad for the forthcoming Autumn Internationals against New Zealand, South Africa and Tonga, while Declan Kidney has also announced his 31 man Ireland squad, though more are expected to be announced after this weekendâ€™s fixtures.
Ireland will be without full back Rob Kearney for all three internationals, against South Africa, Fiji and Argentina, due to a back injury that will leave him out for around 10 weeks as he requires surgery.
The Ireland squad includes four uncapped players Iain Henderson, David Kilcoyne, Luke Marshall and, perhaps most significantly, Richardt Strauss the South African born Leinster hooker who has now qualified for Ireland on residency grounds.
Strauss has been one of the form hookers in Europe for the last three years and many are now tipping him for a place on the Lions tour if he can mount a challenge to Rory Best for his Ireland shirt.
In a further significant addition to the Ireland set up, former Munster and Ireland Number 8, Anthony Foley, will be joining the Irish coaching staff as a specialist defence coach.
Foley has been working as an assistant coach at Munster, a role that he will continue in despite his work with the national side.
Speaking at the announcement of the squad, Kidney said:
“We have three incredibly competitive games ahead of us in November and while there have been quite a few injuries and niggles in the early part of the season, it has opened up opportunities for other players to step into the squad.â€
â€œOur focus will be getting our preparations right to match the intensity of international games.â€
“I’m pleased that Anthony has taken up the offer of working with the squad to assist during this vital period in November. His previous experience of working with the team during the last RBS 6 Nations championship was important, but his own abilities and experience were central to bringing him on board.”
Scotland have also brought in some new faces to the squad with seven uncapped players joining the party, a move brought on in part due to injury to a few key players.
Joe Ansbro, Chris Cusiter, Alasdair Dickinson, Ed Kalman, Rory Lamont, Moray Low, Graeme Morrison and Nikki Walker are all ruled out through injury, while Richie Gray, Greig Laidlaw and Tim Visser are all carrying niggles.
As such, into the squad come Alex Dunbar, Grant Gilchrist, Peter Horne, Stuart McInally, Peter Murchie, Henry Pyrgos and Tommy Seymour.
Robinson will also be deciding on a captain next week as versatile back rower, Kelly Brown, returns to the squad. Brown had been tipped to captain the side before last seasons 6 Nations but was hit by injury and the job went to Ross Ford.
Scotland will be looking to build on their unbeaten summer tour, where they beat Australia, Fiji and Samoa, and Andy Robinson was in an upbeat mood:
“It’s always an exciting time when the Scotland squad comes togetherâ€¦it’s some four months since Scotland last played an international, so when the squad reconvenes there will be an element of renewing acquaintances and reigniting the spark and spirit that was such a key part of our success on our summer tour.â€
“New Zealand are formidable opponents. They do the basics exceptionally well and play with a pace and ruthlessness. It’s no coincidence that they are the best team in the world.â€
“We must look to build on the physical commitment of our players against Australia, Fiji and Samoa. It’s a great opportunity for players to really test themselves and for us to be clear on where we are.â€
“For us it’s about having a belief about what we’re trying to do, the roles and everybody being clear in their roles going into the game, understanding how we can put New Zealand under pressure and putting in an 80-minute performance.”
John Barclay (Glasgow), Kelly Brown (Saracens), Geoff Cross (Edinburgh), David Denton (Edinburgh), Ross Ford (Edinburgh), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Ryan Grant (Glasgow), Richie Gray (Sale), Dougie Hall (Glasgow), Jim Hamilton (Gloucester), Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh), Alastair Kellock (Glasgow), Scott Lawson (London Irish), Stuart McInally (Edinburgh), Ross Rennie (Edinburgh), Tom Ryder (Glasgow), Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan), Kyle Traynor (Bristol).
Mike Blair (Brive), Nick De Luca (Edinburgh), Alex Dunbar (Glasgow), Max Evans (Castres), Stuart Hogg (Glasgow), Peter Horne (Glasgow), Ruaraidh Jackson (Glasgow), Lee Jones (Edinburgh), Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh), Sean Lamont (Glasgow), Rory Lawson (Newcastle), Peter Murchie (Glasgow), Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow), Matt Scott (Edinburgh), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow), Tim Visser (Edinburgh).
Rory Best (Ulster), Tom Court (Ulster), Stephen Ferris (Ulster), Cian Healy (Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster), Iain Henderson (Ulster), Chris Henry (Ulster), David Kilcoyne (Munster), John Muldoon (Connacht), Mike McCarthy (Connacht), Kevin McLaughlin (Leinster), Donncha Oâ€™Callaghan (Munster), Paul Oâ€™Connell (Munster), Peter Oâ€™Mahony (Munster), Mike Ross (Leinster), Donnacha Ryan (Munster), Richardt Strauss (Leinster), Dan Tuohy (Ulster).
Tommy Bowe (Ulster), Darren Cave (Ulster), Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster), Keith Earls (Munster), Luke Marshall (Ulster), Conor Murray (Munster), Fergus McFadden (Leinster), Brian O’Driscoll (Leinster), Ronan O’Gara (Munster), Eoin Reddan (Leinster), Jonathan Sexton (Leinster) Andrew Trimble (Ulster), Simon Zebo (Munster).