The much-anticipated moment has arrived for Scotland’s Rugby World Cup aspirants. Following an intense 12-week training period. Gregor Townsend is set to unveil the 33-man squad for the Rugby World Cup 2023 campaign this morning. Originally comprising 41 players in May. The training group has been trimmed to 37 due to the unexpected retirements of Stuart Hogg and the early releases of Adam Hastings, Stafford McDowall, and Cameron Henderson.

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RWC 2023 Tickets | Scotland Rugby World Cup Tickets | France Rugby World Cup Tickets
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As the final selection looms, four individuals are on the brink of disappointment. Soon to receive the news that their dreams of competing on the grandest stage in rugby this Autumn won’t materialize. Townsend’s strategy, as revealed after the recent ‘friendly’ defeat to France. Involves releasing one player from each of the crucial positions: hooker, tight-head prop, back-row, and scrum-half.

With only hours left until the announcement. Anticipation and emotions run high for both the aspiring players and eager fans awaiting the composition of Scotland’s RWC 2023 squad. The hooker position presents perhaps the most contentious decision. Exemplified by the exclusion of Fraser Brown. Despite being Scotland’s first-choice hooker not long ago.

His absence from the final four for the summer training camp highlights the intense competition within the squad.  Brown is currently nursing an injury, further complicating matters. George Turner, who occupied the No 2 jersey during the recent Six Nations, holds a significant claim to the role. The dynamic 30-year-old has accumulated substantial experience and performance credit. Enabling him to maintain his position.

The Hooker Contenders

Nevertheless, the competition is fierce, with other talented contenders vying for the coveted hooker spot. Putting pressure on Turner to uphold his status. Ewan Ashman, formerly associated with Sale Sharks and soon to join Edinburgh, is poised to establish himself. As a key figure for Scotland in the years ahead. However, there are lingering uncertainties regarding the 23-year-old’s proficiency in line-out throwing.

Particularly when facing heightened pressure situations. While his potential and overall abilities are promising. His ability to consistently deliver accurate throws during critical moments remains a subject of scrutiny and evaluation. Dave Cherry stands out as perhaps the most polished and technically proficient hooker among the four candidates. His journey to this point has been marked by perseverance.

As he fought his way through challenges. Including stints in the English Championship and the demanding third division of French rugby. Before earning a professional contract in Scotland in 2018. This background has instilled in him a relentless drive and determination, evident in his style of play. At 32 years old, Cherry exudes an intensity that suggests he always carries a chip on his shoulder, ready to prove his worth. For more about Wales Rugby World Cup Tickets.

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RWC 2023 Tickets | Scotland Rugby World Cup Tickets | France Rugby World Cup Tickets

If he were to emerge as Scotland’s primary choice in the pivotal hooker position. It would not be an unjust outcome given his resilient journey and unwavering commitment. Stuart McInally, a valued and dedicated contributor to the team over the years. Finds himself in a challenging position as the odd one out among the hooker contenders. Despite his experience and history of service.

Substitute In Matches Against Italy And France in Rugby World Cup

The 33-year-old has faced his share of trials, including a challenging stint as Scotland’s captain during the Rugby World Cup 2019. McInally’s desire for one last opportunity to represent his country before transitioning to a career. As a commercial airline pilot is evident, his recent strong performance off the bench against France highlighted his capabilities.

However, the competitive landscape and the need for performance-driven decisions in modern international rugby mean that momentum appears to favour his three rivals. While sentimentality may be a cherished aspect of the game. Tough choices must be made to assemble the most competitive squad for the Rugby World Cup campaign. The competition for the tight-head prop position is another area requiring a tough decision.

As the squad narrows down from four to three contenders. Zander Fagerson’s suspension will conclude in time for him to take on the role of wearing the No. 3 jersey in Scotland’s opening World Cup match against South Africa. This positions him as a definite inclusion in the squad. Alongside him, 37-year-old WP Nel, an experienced campaigner, is poised to serve as his deputy.

This leaves Murphy Walker and recent Edinburgh recruit Javan Sebastian in a head-to-head battle for the remaining spot. The choice will likely hinge on factors like form, versatility, and overall contribution to the team’s set-piece and forward play. Javan Sebastian’s notable showings as a substitute in matches against Italy and France have potentially elevated his position from an outsider to a stronger candidate for selection.

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RWC 2023 Tickets | Scotland Rugby World Cup Tickets | France Rugby World Cup Tickets

The Remaining Contenders For The Final Spot

This performance surge likely places him ahead of 23-year-old Murphy Walker.  Who, despite his promising future, has faced limited recent game-time due to substantial injuries to his hamstring and neck over the past couple of years. In the back row, the situation is slightly more complex. As seven players are vying for six available spots.  The guaranteed selections appear to include Rory Darge, Matt Fagerson, Jack Dempsey, Hamish Watson, and team captain Jamie Ritchie.

This leaves Luke Crosbie and Josh Bayliss as the remaining contenders for the final spot. The ultimate decision will depend on factors such as versatility, form, and tactical considerations. As well as the overall balance of the squad and the roles these players can fulfil on the field. Josh Bayliss, who represents Bath in club rugby, was a late addition to the training squad, taking the place of the injured Andy Christie.

Bayliss has made the most of this opportunity, impressing with his performances. He showcased his abilities by scoring a notable late try as a substitute in Scotland’s initial warm-up match against Italy. His impactful bench contributions continued in the subsequent game. On the other hand, Luke Crosbie’s game time has been relatively limited.

With just 69 minutes played more quietly against Italy, and he has not featured since. The final scrum-half selection hinges on the fitness of Ben White. Who is dealing with an ankle injury? White sought an expert assessment on Monday, and updates on his condition have yet to emerge. If he manages to recover in time. To read more about English Pundit Raises Concerns Over All Blacks‘ ‘Loyalty’ to Sam Cane and Its Potential France Rugby World Cup Values.

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RWC 2023 Tickets | Scotland Rugby World Cup Tickets | France Rugby World Cup Tickets
Predicted squad

It seems likely based on comments from Gregor Townsend after the last match, he will likely secure the first-choice No. 9 spot.  George Horne and Ali Price would then serve as backup options. However, if White’s recovery timeline is uncertain, young prospect Jamie Dobie could step in to fill the position. The final decision will be guided by the players’ fitness and the team’s requirements for the World Cup campaign.

Forwards: Pierre Schoeman, Jamie Bhatti, Ewan Ashman, Dave Cherry, George Turner, Rory Sutherland, Zander Fagerson, Javan Sebastian, WP Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Scott Cummings, Sam Skinner, Richie Gray, Rory Darge, Matt Fagerson, Jack Dempsey, Hamish Watson, Jamie Ritchie CAPTAIN, Josh Bayliss.

Backs:  Ali Price, George Horne, Ben Healy, Ben White, Chris Harris, Finn Russell, Cameron Redpath, Huw Jones, Darcy Graham, Sione Tuipulotu, Kyle Steyn, Blair Kinghorn, Duhan van der Merwe, Ollie Smith.

Missing out: Murphy Walker, Stuart McInally, Jamie Dobie and Luke Crosbie.

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