McInally to captain Scotland at World Cup as Jones & Hutchinson miss out

Townsend buoyed by strength of Scotland squad

Stuart McInally has been named Scotland captain for the Rugby World Cup, but centres Huw Jones and Rory Hutchinson are among the squad’s major omissions.

Forwards Josh Strauss, Matt Fagerson and Magnus Bradbury also miss out after coach Gregor Townsend announced his 31-man squad on Tuesday.

Edinburgh hooker McInally has been chosen ahead of John Barclay and Greig Laidlaw to captain the Scots in Japan.

“I was injured for the last World Cup, so this makes it sweeter,” he said.

“It was a very proud moment when I was asked to be captain.”

Adam Hastings travels as cover for Finn Russell at fly-half.

Nine men were always going to be left disappointed as Townsend whittled the squad down from 40 when the final player pool for the competition, which begins on 20 September, was presented at Linlithgow Palace.

“It’s been a tough process getting down to 31 players, but we are very happy with the squad we’ve selected,” Townsend said.

“When we play to our best we are a match for any team in the world. We have a stronger squad now than we’ve ever had.”

The battle for midfield slots was the most competitive in this squad and it is where some notable omissions were inevitable.

Glasgow Warriors’ Jones made an explosive start to his Test career, littered with tries in big games, but his poor form over the past year has cost him a World Cup place.

Hutchinson seemed to be the coming man, with the Northampton Saints’ centre scoring twice on his first Test start against Georgia at the weekend.

However, Townsend has chosen Peter Horne and Chris Harris as back-up to the expected first-choice pairing of Sam Johnson and Duncan Taylor.

“Rory came very close, both him and Huw were debated for a long while on the flight back from Georgia,” Townsend said.

“Both Rory and Huw are similar in terms of not having enough games at international level to force their way into the squad.”

The back-row was another fiercely contested area that was always going to be tough to narrow down.

Strauss, now back in his native South Africa with Bulls, and Glasgow’s Fagerson showed up well in Tbilisi, but that was not enough to book a seat on the plane to Japan.

Edinburgh’s Bradbury has paid the price for a lack of match action after a rib injury ruled him out of the first three World Cup warm-up games.

Scotland squad

Forwards: John Barclay (Edinburgh), Simon Berghan (Edinburgh), Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors), Allan Dell (London Irish), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Stuart McInally (capt) (Edinburgh), WP Nel (Edinburgh), Gordon Reid (Ayrshire Bulls), Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh), Blade Thomson (Scarlets), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh), George Turner (Glasgow Warriors), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors).

Backs: Darcy Graham (Edinburgh), Chris Harris (Gloucester), Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors), Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs), George Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Peter Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh), Greig Laidlaw (Clermont Auvergne), Sean Maitland (Saracens), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors), Finn Russell (Racing 92), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors), Duncan Taylor (Saracens).

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