'Lots' of Scots in with British & Irish Lions' chance - Gregor Townsend

Stuart Hogg and Sean Maitland have had a taste of Lions' squads before but neither has played in a Test
Stuart Hogg and Sean Maitland have had a taste of Lions' squads before but neither has played in a Test

"Lots" of Scotland players will be contention for next year's British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa, head coach Gregor Townsend suggests.

Townsend named a 40-man squad ahead of five games this autumn and hopes they can build on momentum created before the Six Nations was halted.

"We see the potential and we see what they are capable of already and there's more to come from them all," he said.

"We believe our best are a match for anyone in Britain and Ireland."

Scotland begin with a friendly against Georgia, take on Wales in the delayed final match of the Six Nations, then take on Italy, France and Fiji in the new Autumn Nations Cup.

"It is down to us, and especially them, to show their worth in the coming weeks and also when they get the opportunity in the Six Nations next year," Townsend said. "I don't think what they did in the Six Nations seven or eight months ago will make a huge amount of difference."

The head coach named an extended squad to cope with the fact that Scotland have four players involved in this weekend's Champions Cup final between Exeter Chiefs and Racing 92, while the English side then face Wasps in the Premiership final.

It means that Exeter's Stuart Hogg - the Scotland captain - Sam Skinner and Jonny Gray will miss the meeting with Georgia.

Racing's Finn Russell, who has returned to the squad after resolving a dispute with Townsend, will join the squad ahead of that game on 23 October.

South Africans Oli Kebble and Duhan van der Merwe were named by Townsend for the first time after qualifying on residency grounds.

The head coach also revealed that their compatriot, Edinburgh fly-half Jaco van der Walt, will take part in some training sessions before also becoming available in mid-November.

Townsend agreed that the extended squad would also be helpful should there be disruption because of Covid-19 test results.

"We obviously have an eye on what may happen if we were to get any circumstances where players have to isolate or be removed from the group - one reason why we've got a third front row in the squad," he said.

'Scots opening a few eyes' - analysis

Former Scotland international Colin Gregor on BBC Radio Scotland

In Scotland, we maybe think of our players as being better than people in the rest of Britain do. I think Stuart Hogg and Jonny Gray going down to Exeter and showing they can be among the better players may open a few eyes that maybe these guys are a better standard then people expect.

They have to go and back that up in the international scene, especially away from home, and put together complete performances as individuals and as team - that is how they will get Lions recognition.

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