Gary Graham: Scotland call up England-qualified flanker for South Africa Test

Gary Graham scores a try for Newcastle
Graham has been a key figure in Newcastle's rise in recent seasons
Autumn Test: Scotland v South Africa
Venue: Murrayfield, Date: Saturday, 17 November Kick-off: 17:20 BST
Coverage: Watch live on BBC Television, listen live on Radio Scotland & online; text commentary on BBC Sport website & app

Scotland have called up Newcastle flanker Gary Graham, who was picked for England's 2018 Six Nations training camp, for their final autumn Tests.

The uncapped 26-year-old, born in Stirling, is the son of former Scotland prop and forwards coach George Graham.

He comes in as an injury replacement for Scarlets flanker Blade Thomson, who is still recovering from concussion.

"I'm Scottish through-and-through but England asked me first as I'm eligible through residency," Graham explained.

"It would have been a silly opportunity to pass up, as I hadn't been selected for a Scotland squad since U20s.

"I'm absolutely delighted to get this opportunity. I phoned [head coach] Gregor Townsend to assure him I wanted to play for Scotland, and always wanted to play for my country. It's where I'm from and where I played most of my rugby."

Graham moved to Carlisle age three but returned to Scotland at 17 and played for Gala and Scotland Under-20s before joining Jersey in the English Championship and then moving to Newcastle last year.

Scotland, fresh from Saturday's 54-17 win over Fiji, host a resurgent South Africa this Saturday, 17 November, before completing their autumn series against Argentina on 24 November.

Townsend said it was "great to hear" that Graham "wanted to commit to Scotland".

"It has become a competitive environment for dual-qualified players recently and we know these are not easy decisions for players," he added.

"We've been tracking Gary since he was at Jersey and his form over the past 12 months at Newcastle has moved him closer to playing international rugby. We look forward to welcoming him into our squad for this week's camp."

Exeter Chiefs lock Sam Skinner, who represented England at Under-20 level, was named man-of-the-match on his Scotland debut against Fiji on Saturday.

'There's a lot of convincing to be done' - analysis

Former Scotland international Peter Wright on BBC Radio Scotland

Like most people, I'm pretty shocked as we thought he'd committed himself to England. He's now backtracked on that so the most important people he'll have to get on side are the players in that squad - there will be a lot of black humour going around, a lot of guys wondering what he's doing so he's got them to convince and if manages that the Scottish public will take him on board big time.

He's a real workmanlike player and very good for the modern game - he's a hard, aggressive, physical guy and with the blend you are looking for in your back row you are looking for that. His dad is one of the most passionate Scots you'll ever meet and if Gary has half of that passion then he'll do a fantastic job.

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