Gregor Townsend starts five uncapped players for Scotland’s clash with Canada

Ten players in the 23-man squad could make their debuts at the TD Place Stadium in Ottawa, which kicks off their four-match summer tour.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has named his team to facce Canada
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has named his team to facce Canada (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Gregor Townsend has named five uncapped players in his starting XV in Scotland’s first summer tour game against Canada and could feature up to 10 debutants by the end of the game on Saturday.

Edinburgh centre Matt Currie, wing Arron Reed and his Sale team-mate, scrum-half Gus Warr, second-rower Max Williamson and his Glasgow Warriors back-row team-mate Gregor Brown, all start the game at the TD Place Stadium, Ottawa.

Northampton hooker Robbie Smith, Glasgow prop Nathan McBeth, Leicester prop Will Hurd, Oyannax second row Ewan Johnson and Edinburgh wing Ross McCann will hope to make their debuts off the bench.

Townsend is excited about the new faces in the Scotland set-up.

He told Scottish Rugby’s official X account: “With a few players getting their first starts for Scotland and some of them off the bench at some point to win the first cap, it will be a tremendous day for them and their families.

“As a coaching group and the whole group, we feel really excited about these new players getting a chance to wear the Scotland jersey.”

On Sale debutants Reid and Warr, the Scotland head coach said: “They are playing really well. Arron was here during the Six Nations and didn’t get a chance to play, but he trained really well.

“It’s been a big week for him, getting married at the end of last week and now winning his first cap for Scotland. And Gus has integrated really well, he’s an experienced player at a young age and the role that we’ve see him play, he is going to have a big say in our game.”

Townsend believes Glasgow’s debut duo Brown and Williamson will be confident from the stunning United Rugby Championship victory in South Africa.

He said: “They didn’t get the time off like some of the starters in that final, but I thought Gregor played really well, either second row or back row for Glasgow.

“Max had his breakthrough season for Glasgow and they they’ve obviously trained and played right until the end of the season so they are much fit, confident and still buzzing after that tremendous URC win and now they get the chance to win the first cap for Scotland.”

Townsend expects a tough test in Ottawa, adding: “It’s always a physical game, Canada.

“The fact that they are playing here at home, they’re going to have a big crowd behind them, conditions that may suit them better.

“And we’re playing on 3G pitch. So there’s a few things we have to adapt to and be ready for as a challenge. But this week’s about our game, seeing our players playing together, the first time for a number of them, but also seeing our game in place that we want to see for the next four weeks.”

Glasgow centre Stafford McDowall is named as co-captain alongside Edinburgh flanker Luke Crosbie, who led a Scotland A team, which also featured Currie, against Chile in 2022.

Reed and Manchester-born Warr, who qualifies for Scotland through his mother – she hails from Strathaven – have impressed for Sale this season, while wing Reed was involved in the Guinness Six Nations squad.

Warriors team-mates Jamie Dobie – selected on the wing – and fly-half Ross Thompson are also selected from the start.

Harry Paterson will make his second Scotland appearance at full-back, while Sale hooker Dylan Richardson will start the match having previously made his Scotland debut in the back row against Japan at Scottish Gas Murrayfield in 2021.

He is joined in the front row by Rory Sutherland, the most-capped player in the starting line-up, along with Elliot Millar-Mills, who recently won the Gallagher Premiership with Northampton.

In the second row, Williamson is joined by Edinburgh’s Glen Young, who will make his third Scotland appearance, and in the back row, Bath’s Josh Bayliss will start at number eight along with Crosbie at openside and Brown on the blindside.

On the bench, Glasgow captain Kyle Steyn can offer experience along with Matt Fagerson and Edinburgh stand-off Ben Healy.

After taking on the Canadians in Ottawa, the Scots face the United States in Washington on July 12, then meet the challenge of Chile in Santiago on July 20 before finishing off the tour against Uruguay in Montevideo seven days later.