Finn Russell back in Scotland squad as Gregor Townsend picks three uncapped players

Finn Russell has been recalled by Scotland.
Finn Russell has not played for Scotland since the Rugby World Cup game against last October.Finn Russell has not played for Scotland since the Rugby World Cup game against last October.
Finn Russell has not played for Scotland since the Rugby World Cup game against last October.

He is named in Gregor Townsend’s 40-man squad for the autumn internationals.

A major rift developed between the stand-off and the head coach on the eve of this year’s Six Nations.

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But the relationship appears to have been mended, with Russell in line to play a key role over the next few weeks.

There are three uncapped players in the party for the busy programme which includes an outstanding Six Nations match against Wales in Llanelli on 31 October and the new Autumn Nations Cup tournament which will see Scotland play Italy, France and Fiji. There is also a warm-up game against Georgia.

The three uncapped players are Glasgow Warriors prop Oli Kebble, Edinburgh winger Duhan van der Merwe and Harlequins scrum-half, Scott Steele.

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The former two are South African and qualify under the residency rule.

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There are also recalls for Glasgow Warriors pair Richie Gray and Rob Harley, Scarlets’ Blade Thomson and Edinburgh’s Damien Hoyland.

Russell, who is in line to win his 50th cap, has not played for Scotland since the defeat by Japan at the World Cup a year ago on Tuesday.

He was named in the Six Nations squad for the opener against Ireland in February but then left the team camp after “a breach of team protocol”.

It was alleged that the Racing 92 playmaker was challenged over alcohol consumption after checking into the Scotland hotel in Edinburgh on the Sunday before the match.

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He then left and did not show up for training on Monday morning. He was subsequently told by Townsend he would not be considered for selection in Dublin.

Richie Gray returns after a lengthy absence, after twice turning down a chance to join the World Cup training squad last year for family and fitness reasons.

The lock won his 55th and most recent cap against Italy in 2018 in his only international of that year.

A head injury ruled him out of the first four games of this year’s Six Nations but he could now feature in the final match against Wales on October 31 following his return to Glasgow from a spell in France.

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