Townsend sees 'contenders' as Scots debutants start in Canada

Gregor Brown, Matt Currie and Max Williamson
Gregor Brown, Matt Currie and Max Williamson are among Scotland's debutants [SNS]

Summer Test: Canada v Scotland

Venue: TD Place Stadium, Ottawa, Ontario Date: Saturday, 6 July Time: 22:00 BST

Coverage: Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app

Gregor Townsend believes several members of his inexperienced Scotland squad can become "genuine contenders" to start for a full-strength national side.

The Scotland head coach has named five uncapped players in his line-up to face Canada in Saturday's summer tour opener.

Edinburgh centre Matt Currie, Sale Sharks duo, wing Arron Reed and scrum-half Gus Warr, and lock Max Williamson and flanker Gregor Brown - both of Glasgow Warriors - will start at TD Place Stadium in Ottawa.

Northampton Saints hooker Robbie Smith, Glasgow prop Nathan McBeth, Leicester Tigers prop Will Hurd, Oyonnax lock Ewan Johnson and Edinburgh wing Ross McCann could win their first Scotland caps off the bench.

Prop Rory Sutherland is the most experienced starter with 30 appearances, while back-row Matt Fagerson, with 44 caps, and versatile back Kyle Steyn, with 19, offer experience off the bench.

Every other player selected has fewer than nine caps, including co-captains Luke Crosbie (eight) and centre Stafford McDowall (two).

The Scots will also play the United States (12 July), Chile (20 July) and Uruguay (27 July), with the latter two Tests shown live on BBC Scotland and iPlayer.

"With any player winning their first cap we want to see what got them selected in the first place - their game and their strengths," Townsend said.

"When we selected this squad, one of the principles we had was, ‘do we believe these players can play for us not just now, but in November and the Six Nations?’ That’s the goal.

"There will be a lot of examples over the next few weeks of guys taking their opportunity and being genuine contenders for our Test team that plays South Africa in November."

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The five debutants and five potential debutants are all but one of the uncapped players named in the 37-man squad by Townsend last month, with hooker Patrick Harrison missing out.

Veterans Finn Russell, Zander Fagerson, Richie Gray and Grant Gilchrist are among the players not picked for the tour.

Scotland and Canada's mens' teams previously met in Edmonton in 2018, the Scots winning 48-10.

Canada are also scheduled to play Romania (12 July), Japan (25 August) and the United States (31 August) this summer.

Scotland line-up to face Canada

Scotland: Paterson, Dovie, Currie, McDowall, Reed, Thompson, Warr; Sutherland, Richardson, Millar Mills, Williamson, Young, Brown, Crosbie, Bayliss.

Replacements: Smith, McBeth, Hurd, Johnson, M Fagerson, Healy, Steyn, McCann.