Stuart Hogg: Exeter Chiefs full-back to captain Scotland in Six Nations

Stuart Hogg
Stuart Hogg succeeds Stuart McInally as Scotland skipper for the Six Nations
Six Nations Championship
Dates: 1 February-14 March
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Stuart Hogg is the new Scotland captain after head coach Gregor Townsend named his squad for this year's Six Nations.

The 27-year-old Exeter Chiefs full-back replaces Edinburgh's Stuart McInally, who skippered the national side during last year's disappointing Rugby World Cup campaign.

Six uncapped players are included in Townsend's 38-man squad.

"We've got a fantastic group of young players and there's a lot of experience as well," Hogg said.

"There's a time to bring passion and calmness when things are going well and when things aren't going quite so well. Momentum shifts are massive in rugby.

"Yes, passion is important but there's a time and place. I want the players to be emotional about the games, have a sense of pride in putting on the jersey and use that in the right way so it comes out in how we defend and how we attack."

Townsend said Hogg "really wanted to take on the honour and responsibility" of leading the team.

"I've met him a couple of times to go through how he would captain the side, what he would do in the build-up and how he would handle certain situations and I was impressed with his answers and thought process," the head coach added.

"He's a mature player in terms of how he contributes in meetings. He's been very consistent, a very experienced player for us.

"And I think the experiences he's had recently with going to a new club and adapting to a new coaches, a new way of playing and the demands in terms of playing time, he's done really well. He's going to be supported by some experienced players around him."

Hogg's sole game as skipper came in a loss to the USA in June 2018, but he has been vice-captain several times since and the 72-cap man is the most experienced player in the squad following the retirement of former skippers Greig Laidlaw and John Barclay.

Scotland in the 2020 Six Nations
Saturday, 1 February, 16:45 GMT: Ireland v Scotland (live on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and BBC Radio Scotland)
Saturday, 8 February, 16:45 GMT: Scotland v England (live on BBC TV, BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio Scotland)
Saturday, 22 February, 14:15 GMT: Italy v Scotland (live on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and BBC Radio Scotland)
Sunday, 8 March, 15:00 GMT: Scotland v France (live on BBC TV, BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and BBC Radio Scotland)
Saturday, 14 March, 14:00 GMT: Wales v Scotland (live on BBC TV, S4C, Radio Scotland)

Glasgow Warriors trio Tom Gordon, Kyle Steyn and and Ratu Tagive, plus Edinburgh duo Luke Crosbie and Nick Haining and Gloucester's Alex Craig, are the uncapped players called up for the tournament, which Scotland begin away to Ireland on 1 February.

Centres Huw Jones and Rory Hutchinson are recalled after missing out on the World Cup. Edinburgh centre Matt Scott returns after a two-and-a-half-year absence and club-mate Rory Sutherland is back more than three-and-a-half years after his last cap.

Worcester Warriors back-row Cornell du Preez last represented Scotland in February 2018 and is recalled after impressing for his club following a horrific throat injury last season.

"We've put a bigger emphasis on form as a guide for our selection, with those picked backed to go out and grab their opportunity," Townsend added.

Toulouse lock Richie Gray, Glasgow back-row Matt Fagerson, Scarlets' Blade Thomson and Harlequins back James Lang all miss out through injury, but could feature during the tournament.

Exeter forward Sam Skinner has not played since suffering a hamstring injury during Scotland's World Cup warm-up Tests in August, but recently returned to full training with his club.

Saracens centre Duncan Taylor and Glasgow trio Pete Horne, Ryan Wilson and Gordon Reid have lost their places in the squad from the World Cup, while Tommy Seymour has retired from international rugby.

'A nightmare - not a dream - to play against' - analysis

BBC Scotland's chief sports writer Tom English

Full-backs who double-up as captains are rare in modern rugby. There's scarcely a full-back who captains in the Pro14 or in the English Premiership and of the leading 20 nations in the world only one number 15 is leader of his country - Vasily Artemyev of Russia. Hogg's elevation now makes that two.

Townsend is confident Hogg can do the job, but Townsend wasn't exactly over-burdened with players who are guaranteed a start and who have captaincy credentials. The temptation here would have been to usher in a new era by giving the gig to the outstanding Jamie Ritchie, but Townsend wants experience. You can understand the reasons why.

When talking about the newcomers to his squad, Townsend used the kind of language that suggested a focus on directness to go with the flair he always espouses. In repeatedly mentioning the power, the explosiveness, the toughness, the dynamism and the ball-carrying potential of the uncapped forwards, Alex Craig, Luke Crosbie, Tom Gordon and Nick Haining, Townsend sounded like a man who has taken on board the lessons of 2019.

Raw aggression in defence and attack is an area where Scotland have been deficient. Scotland's mentality, as well as the ease with which teams score against them, has been a problem for years. There are some new, hungry and belligerent forwards in Townsend's group. His object is to make Scotland a nightmare, as opposed to a dream, to play against. To Dublin, then, in pursuit of fresh start.

Scotland's Six Nations squad

Forwards: Simon Berghan, Jamie Bhatti, Magnus Bradbury, Fraser Brown, Alex Craig, Luke Crosbie, Scott Cummings, Allan Dell, Cornell du Preez, Zander Fagerson, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Tom Gordon, Nick Haining, Stuart McInally, Willem Nel, Jamie Ritchie, Rory Sutherland, Ben Toolis, George Turner, Hamish Watson.

Backs: Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Adam Hastings, Stuart Hogg (c), George Horne, Rory Hutchinson, Sam Johnson, Huw Jones, Blair Kinghorn, Sean Maitland, Matt Scott, Byron McGuigan, Ali Price, Henry Pyrgos, Finn Russell, Kyle Steyn, Ratu Tagive.

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