New head coach Gregor Townsend has appointed John Barclay as Scotland rugby captain for their summer tour matches against Italy, Australia and Fiji.
Barclay has been handed the armband after regular skipper Greig Laidlaw received a belated call-up to the British and Irish Lions.
The Scarlets forward, who captained the team for their final three fixtures of this year’s RBS 6 Nations after Laidlaw was ruled out with an ankle injury, will lead a 34-man squad as they take on Italy, Australia and Fiji.
Former Glasgow boss Townsend’s first act as national team head coach since replacing Vern Cotter is to hand the Warriors pair of prop D’Arcy Rae and centre Nick Grigg their first call-ups, with Edinburgh hooker George Turner also included for the first time.
However, there was no place for Grant Gilchrist, Cornel Du Preez, Duncan Weir, Simon Berghan nor Stuart McInally.
Scotland will face their opponents on consecutive Saturdays, starting with an historic Test match against Italy in Singapore [June 10], followed by Australia in Sydney [June 17] and Fiji in Suva [June 24].
Townsend has also welcomed back Pete Horne and Willem Nel from injury, while there are notable recalls for Warriors wing Lee Jones, Harlequins back Ruaridh Jackson and Edinburgh scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, who takes Laidlaw’s slot.
Townsend said: “We’re looking forward to what will be a challenging tour of three different countries, playing three quality sides. This tour is all about learning and competing. As a coaching group we will be learning more about our players and how they perform in a different environment against three sides with contrasting styles of play.
“We have assembled a strong squad, and this is an opportunity for them to work with us for the first time. We’re going to have three week’s preparation in Scotland before we head overseas, which will enable us to implement the key components of how we will play.
“Ultimately, though, this is a tour that will be about competition — for each individual to compete for a starting place and for them to work hard and find a way to win every time they play.”
Townsend added: “Playing Italy in Singapore will be a very different prospect than taking them on in Edinburgh or Rome. It will be a challenge for both teams to adapt to the new surroundings.
“Australia in Sydney in the afternoon is just an excellent fixture against a team that plays some great attacking rugby, while Fiji in Suva will be a huge test for our defence in an environment that we will very rarely play in.”
The draw for the 2019 World Cup will take place in Kyoto this Wednesday and Townsend explained the game’s global showpiece is already a part of the selection process.
“The Rugby World Cup certainly features in our thinking as we prepare for this tour,” he added. “We’ve looked at a number of players for selection for this squad and there are a few that have missed out on selection, some of whom were very close and will be in our thoughts as we move into next season and as we build towards the World Cup.
“The 34 players named today are selected not just for their form and what they’ve done in a Scotland jersey up to now but for what they can do over the next couple of years.”
Townsend also confirmed the appointment of his former Glasgow assistants Stuart Yule and Gavin Vaughan as national team strength and conditioning coach and analyst, respectively.
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Townsend appoints Barclay as Scotland captain
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