'Duncan Taylor will make Scotland better', says Gregor Townsend

Duncan Taylor in action for Scotland against France
Injury deprived Duncan Taylor of the opportunity to represent his country this season

Head coach Gregor Townsend believes fit-again back Duncan Taylor will make Scotland better on their June tour.

The Saracens player, 29, won the most recent of his 21 caps during last summer's trio of Tests having endured a season marred by injury.

Taylor ended a three-month lay-off caused by recurring migraines in April.

"I'm still crossing my fingers because he's got two more [Saracens] games left and we're really hoping he will be available to tour," Townsend said.

"He's a very important player for us. He can play in a number of positions. His work-rate off the ball is outstanding. He's a very creative player, he's an excellent defender."

Scotland's 33-man squad tackle Canada, USA and Argentina on successive weekends in June.

Taylor, who can play at centre, wing, or full-back, featured in all three of Scotland's corresponding fixtures a year ago - Townsend's first matches at the helm.

Duncan Taylor holds the European Champions Cup with Saracens team-mates Brad Barritt and Marcelo Bosch
Taylor, centre, has two European Champions Cups to his name

The two-time English Premiership and European Champions Cup winner showcased the extent of his skill-set and versatility in the Scots' 24-19 triumph over Australia, but has mustered just 12 club appearances this season.

"When you think back to that game in Sydney, he was outstanding," Townsend added. "He scored a try, created a try, played the first half at centre, moved to the wing in the second half and played very well.

"Saracens rate him very highly, I just hope he gets a good run of luck - for his own good, but for us, the more we can involve him, the better we'll be as a team."

Numerous front-line players, including captain John Barclay, lock Jonny Gray, scrum-half Greig Laidlaw and fly-half Finn Russell, have been rested for the June venture.

Others such as Hamish Watson and Huw Jones will spend the summer recuperating from injuries that require surgery.

Stuart McInally on the attack for Scotland against Italy
Edinburgh hooker Stuart McInally captains Scotland during June

The squad will be captained by Edinburgh hooker Stuart McInally, and features six uncapped players, with Townsend stressing each had time to force their way into his plans for next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.

"It's not a last chance, but it's a great opportunity," he said. "We certainly have the World Cup in our mind when we're planning what a 31-man squad will look like in 14-15 months' time.

"Obviously things will change with injury and form. We believe the players on this tour have the chance of being in that squad.

"They could play their way into that squad and have a real lasting memory of what they do on this tour. They could certainly play their way out of that squad by what they do on tour. But there's a lot of rugby still to be played after this tour."

Glasgow Warriors' Adam Hastings takes on the Zebre defence
Adam Hastings has scored 59 points in nine apperances for Glasgow this season

One of the prospective debutants is Glasgow Warriors fly-half, Adam Hastings, the 21-year-old son of Scotland great Gavin Hastings.

With Russell rested, Townsend indicated Hastings would be given the opportunity to stake his claim for the number 10 jersey - a position where Scotland's depth is at its thinnest.

"He's played there at Glasgow this year and played well recently, which is great," the head coach said. "I thought he played really well in the Six Nations period and coming off the bench against Edinburgh he looked confident.

"Peter Horne played very well against Connacht. Ruaridh Jackson, who hasn't played at 10 this year, but has played very well for Scotland, is another player we would potentially look to play at 10 on tour.

"But a lot will depend on what we see with Adam. He is there as a 10 and will get an opportunity this summer."

Scotland have won seven of their 11 Tests under Gregor Townsend, who took charge in June 2016
Scotland have won seven of their 11 Tests under Gregor Townsend, who took charge in June 2016

Scotland squad

Forwards (18):

Props: Simon Berghan (Edinburgh Rugby), Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors), Allan Dell (Edinburgh Rugby), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), Murray McCallum (Edinburgh Rugby); Hookers: Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Stuart McInally (Edinburgh Rugby, capt), George Turner (Glasgow Warriors). Locks: Lewis Carmichael (Edinburgh Rugby), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby), Richie Gray (Toulouse), Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh Rugby). Back-rows: Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh Rugby), David Denton (Worcester Warriors), Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), Luke Hamilton (Leicester Tigers), Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby).

Backs (15):

Back three: Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors), Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), Lee Jones (Glasgow Warriors), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby), Byron McGuigan (Sale Sharks). Centres: Nick Grigg (Glasgow Warriors), Chris Harris (Newcastle Falcons), Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors), Duncan Taylor (Saracens). Fly-halves: Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors), Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors), James Lang (Harlequins). Scrum-halves: Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh Rugby), George Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors).

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