Scotland and Wales have both named their extended squads for their upcoming Autumn Internationals Seriesâ€™, with both naming several uncapped players.
Scott Johnson, the interim Scotland head coach, has named a 41 strong squad, which includes five debutants.
Glasgow Warriorsâ€™ Mark Bennett Jonny Gray and Chris Fusaro are all included and could make their debuts when Scotland host Japan, South Africa, and Australia in November.
The other two uncapped players are the London Irish back row duo of Kieran Low and Blair Cowan, with Cowan hoping to become another in the long list of â€˜kilted Kiwisâ€™.
The inclusion of Jonny Gray is of particular interest, his brother Richie is also included and ahs been one of Scotlandâ€™s star players of late, and toured with the British and Irish Lions this summer. If Jonny does gain a cap the Grayâ€™s will join a surprisingly long list of brothers to have played for Scotland, such as Max and Thom Evans, Sean and Rory Lamont, the celebrated Hastings brothers and the many members of the Calder clan, among others.
When announcing his squad Johnson explained that he felt that as interim head coach he had a duty to develop as deep a pool of players as possible:
“We want to continue building a depth to the squad, I have a duty of care to do that 24 months out from the World Cup.”
Warren Gatland has also included some new faces in his squad as he looks to build some depth into the Welsh squad ahead of the World Cup. Included in the squad are the rising star at the Scarlets, scrum half Rhodri Williams, The Ospreys winger Eli Walker, and Cardiff Blues centre Cory Allen.
It is at centre that much of the focus will centre on in this Welsh squad given the absence of Jamie Roberts through injury. Jonathan Davies will almost certainly start at outside centre and he looks likely to be joined by the in form Scott Williams.
Gatland has included a number of French based players, perhaps most surprisingly James Hook who despite excellent form had appeared to have fallen foul of Gatland in some way.
One French based player not included though is Clermont Auvergne full back Lee Byrne, who said that Gatlandâ€™s squad was â€œnot picked on formâ€. Another French based player who may end up missing out is Mike Phillips, he is included but faces a disciplinary hearing at his club Bayonne after allegedly turning up to an analysis session drunk.
Rhys Priestland and Luke Charteris both return to the squad after absence through injury, Priestland will vie with Dan Biggar, Rhys Patchell, and potentially James Hook for the fabled Welsh number ten shirt.
One player who will not be involved is Matthew Rees, it was announced today that he is undergoing testicular surgery and will be out for the foreseeable future. We wish him all the very best and hope that he recovers quickly.
Like Scotlandâ€™s Johnson, Gatland spoke of the need for depth in the squad ahead of the World Cup:
“We have an important campaign ahead as we look to test ourselves against some of the best sides in the world but also add strength in depth to our squad as we look to the future.â€
â€œThe Rugby World Cup is less than two years away, so we are looking to build as much depth in our squad as possible and to give vital international experience to our players.”
Forwards: John Barclay (Scarlets), John Beattie (Montpellier), Kelly Brown (Saracens), Blair Cowan (London Irish), Geoff Cross (Edinburgh), David Denton (Edinburgh), Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh), Ross Ford (Edinburgh), Chris Fusaro (Glasgow Warriors), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors), Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Richie Gray (Castres), Jim Hamilton (Montpellier), Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors), Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), Scott Lawson (Newcastle Falcons), Kieran Low (London Irish), Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors), Pat MacArthur (Glasgow Warriors), Euan Murray (Worcester Warriors), Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan), Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors), Jon Welsh (Glasgow Warriors)
Backs: Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors), Chris Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors), Nick De Luca (Edinburgh), Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors), Max Evans (Castres), Tom Heathcote (Bath), Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), Sean Lamont (Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh), Sean Maitland (Glasgow Warriors), Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors), Matt Scott (Edinburgh), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors), Duncan Taylor (Saracens), Greig Tonks (Edinburgh), Tim Visser (Edinburgh), Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors)
Forwards: Scott Andrews (Cardiff Blues), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Aaron Jarvis (Ospreys), Paul James (Bath), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Ryan Bevington (Ospreys), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Emyr Phillips (Scarlets), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Perpignan), Ian Evans (Ospreys), Bradley Davies (Cardiff Blues), Andrew Coombs (Dragons), Ryan Jones (Ospreys), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Sam Warburton (capt, Cardiff Blues), Toby Faletau (Dragons), Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro)
Backs: Rhodri Williams (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Bayonne), Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Rhys Patchell (Cardiff Blues), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Jon Davies (Scarlets), Ashley Beck (Ospreys), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Cory Allen (Cardiff Blues), Owen Williams (Cardiff Blues), James Hook (Perpignan), George North (Northampton Saints), Eli Walker (Ospreys), Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), Liam Williams (Scarlets).