Gregor Townsend - New Pro14 positive for Scotland

By Laura McGhieBBC Scotland
Scotland enjoyed wins over Australia and Italy over the summer
Scotland enjoyed wins over Australia and Italy over the summer, losing in Fiji, in what were Townsend's first games in charge

A close relationship between the national side and professional teams, gives Scotland an edge over rivals, says head coach Gregor Townsend.

The former Glasgow Warriors coach welcomes a newly-expanded Pro14.

And he has no concerns about the added travel to South Africa affecting the recovery of players with international aspirations.

"I know the players are looking forward to playing in South Africa, a different format," said Townsend.

"It's a really positive move.

"The recovery and management of the players is something that we have an advantage over other countries in Scotland because we're so closely linked with the national team and pro teams and I'm sure that will continue.

"If you're going there for one game or if you're going there drawn to play two games, you do it back-to-back.

"They are used to travelling in this competition, flying to Italy. Every game involves a flight, apart from the derby games within each country.

"I'm sure the teams will prepare well. They will go earlier when they go to South Africa. If you were to ask the players would you like two weeks in South Africa in their summer, in November, December to play games, I'm sure they'd say yes."

Townsend will take a group of 41 to St Andrews for a two-day camp from Sunday, including seven uncapped players and returning British and Irish Lions.

Greig Laidlaw, Tommy Seymour and Stuart Hogg missed Scotland's summer tour while on Lions duty.

Full-back Hogg is among six injured players attending the gathering, along with Fraser Brown, Jonny Gray, Rob Harley, Allan Dell and David Denton.

Namibia-born lock Anton Bresler
Namibia-born Edinburgh lock Anton Bresler is in the Scotland training camp

Toulouse lock Richie Gray has been excused in order to aid his recovery from a back problem with his club.

Phil Burleigh and Anton Bresler will be available to represent Scotland on residency grounds this autumn and they join up for the first time, along with young talents Darcy Graham, Jamie Ritchie, Matt Fagerson, Scott Cummings and Jamie Bhatti.

"This camp is an opportunity to bring the players together who are foremost in our thoughts for the autumn Tests (at home to Samoa, New Zealand and Australia)," said Townsend.

"The timing of our get-together, halfway between our last game and when we will meet up again at the end of October, gives us the ideal opportunity to work with players before they begin competitive rugby with their clubs.

"At the moment we have an excellent pool of players from which to choose and there are also a number of players that haven't been invited to St Andrews that we will be tracking closely to see if they can play their way into our squad."

Scotland training squad

Backs: Phil Burleigh (Edinburgh), Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors), Darcy Graham (Edinburgh), Nick Grigg (Glasgow Warriors) Peter Horne, Rory Hughes, Huw Jones, Lee Jones (all Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw (Clermont Auvergne), Sean Maitland (Saracens), Ali Price, Henry Pyrgos, Finn Russell, Tommy Seymour (all Glasgow Warriors), Duncan Taylor (Saracens), Greig Tonks (London Irish), Tim Visser (Harlequins)

Forwards: John Barclay (Scarlets), Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors), Magnus Bradbury, Anton Bresler (both Edinburgh Rugby), Scott Cummings, Matt Fagerson, Zander Fagerson (all Glasgow Warriors), Ross Ford, Grant Gilchrist, John Hardie, Stuart McInally, Willem Nel (all Edinburgh), Gordon Reid (London Irish), Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh), Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors), Ben Toolis, Hamish Watson (both Edinburgh), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors)

Injured players invited: Fraser Brown, Jonny Gray, Rob Harley, Stuart Hogg (all Glasgow Warriors), Allan Dell (Edinburgh), David Denton (Worcester Warriors)

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