Edinburgh - Scotland head coach Vern Cotter has defended his decision to select
South Africa-born pair Josh Strauss and WP Nel in his 46-man squad for a
Rugby World Cup training camp.
Glasgow number eight Strauss and Edinburgh prop Nel are not yet
eligible to play for Scotland, but both will be available by the time
the World Cup gets underway in England in September and Cotter is keen
to take a closer look at the duo.
Nel, born in the Northern Cape, is just days away from passing the
residency criteria after three years, while Cape Town-born Strauss, who
became a Celtic League champion with Glasgow last weekend, will qualify
just days before Cotter's team open their World Cup campaign against
Japan on September 23.
The selection of non-native Scots has long proved a contentious issue
for Scottish rugby, yet Cotter, desperate to improve a team whose Six
Nations campaign featured five successive defeats, is not worried about
the new recruits having split loyalties when they face South Africa in
their third World Cup Pool B clash on October 3.
"I am happy to see these two players pull on a jersey and play for
Scotland because I think they want to and I think they deserve to,"
Cotter said on Tuesday.
"Just look at Josh for Glasgow at the weekend. He was outstanding.
WP's children were born in Scotland. When you talk to these players they
are very passionate about this being their country. This is where they
"I think they will add value to the team. If it's going to make this team perform well, that's a good thing."
Meanwhile, Scotland flanker John Barclay has been given renewed hope
of a return from international exile after being named in the training
Barclay had been missing from the Scotland squad for the last two years despite his impressive form for Welsh region Scarlets.
But Cotter's decision to take a closer look at the 28-year-old is a boost to his hopes of securing a place at the World Cup.
Mike Cusack is named after a two-year injury lay-off and Glasgow's
Ryan Wilson is included despite his four-month suspension following a
court conviction for assault.
Mike Cusack, Allan Dell, Alasdair Dickinson, Ryan Grant, WP Nel, Gordon
Reid, Jon Welsh, Fraser Brown, Ross Ford, Stuart McInally, Grant
Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Richie Gray, Jim Hamilton, Robert Harle, Tim
Swinson, Adam Ashe, John Barclay, Hugh Blake, Blair Cowan, David Denton,
Josh Strauss, Alasdair Strokosch, Ryan Wilson, Hamish Watson
Chris Cusiter, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Greig Laidlaw, Henry Pyrgos, Ruaridh
Jackson, Finn Russell, Duncan Weir, Mark Bennett, Alex Dunbar, Peter
Horne, Matt Scott, Duncan Taylor, Richie Vernon, Stuart Hogg, Damien
Hoyland, Rory Hughes, Sean Lamont, Sean Maitland, Tommy Seymour, Greig
Tonks, Tim Visser