British & Irish Lions: Vern Cotter says 10 Scots pushing for selection

Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Finn Russell and Duncan Taylor
Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Finn Russell and Duncan Taylor could all earn Lions selection, according to Scotland boss Vern Cotter

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter believes 10 of his players are in contention to earn places on this summer's British and Irish Lions tour.

Only 11 Scots have been selected for the past four Lions tours, with prop Tom Smith, in 2001, the last to start a Test.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland will lead the Lions tour of New Zealand.

"The Six Nations will determine some of the choices Warren will make and how he sees the rankings," Cotter said.

The New Zealander feels tight-head prop WP Nel would be among the leading contenders for a tour spot, though injury has ruled him out of the Six Nations, which starts on 4 February.

Cotter, 54, feels second-row siblings Richie and Jonny Gray have strong cases for selection, alongside captain and scrum-half Greig Laidlaw, and his half-back partner Finn Russell.

"I would have thought that if WP was fit he would be pretty close to being right up there," Cotter told BBC Scotland. "The two Gray brothers are pushing for a position, I believe that Greig could be great for the team dynamics as goal-kicker, captain, a leader within the group.

"Finn is playing some good rugby. If he comes through the Six Nations he'll put pressure on."

Scottish Lions Test starts
1993: New Zealand (6 starts by Scots)Gavin Hastings (3), Kenny Milne (1), Paul Burnell (1), Andy Reed (1)1997: South Africa (8 Test starts by Scots)Tom Smith (3), Gregor Townsend (2), Alan Tait (2), Rob Wainwright (1)
2001: Australia (3 Test starts by Scots)Tom Smith (3)2005: New Zealand (no Test starts by Scots)
2009: South Africa (no Test starts by Scots)2013: Australia (no Test starts by Scots)

Gatland coached the Lions to a 2-1 series win over Australia four years ago, with Richie Gray, Sean Maitland and Hogg the only touring Scots from Cotter's Six Nations squad.

The Scotland boss believes full-back Hogg has advanced his case for re-selection, and says centres Duncan Taylor, Alex Dunbar and Huw Jones, and winger Tommy Seymour could all catch Gatland's eye.

"Duncan Taylor played very well [in the Six Nations] last year," Cotter said. "Alex Dunbar is a very good player as well and you never know what Huw Jones and those guys are going to throw out.

"Tommy Seymour is a very good performer, good in the air, scores points. 'Hoggy' has shown not only how good he is with the ball, but he can kick penalties from 55 metres, he's got a great long kicking game if you want to get down the other end of the paddock. He scores points, he's good under high ball and is improving all the time.

"He was there four years ago and I don't think he's done any harm at all over these past four years to perhaps even get a starting position."

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