McInally to captain Scotland as Jones, Hutchinson miss out on World Cup

Edinburgh (AFP) –


Stuart McInally will captain Scotland at the Rugby World Cup as coach Gregor Townsend axed centres Huw Jones and Rory Hutchinson from his 31-man squad for the tournament in Japan on Tuesday.

Edinburgh hooker McInally has been chosen ahead of John Barclay and Greig Laidlaw to lead the Scots, who begin their campaign against Ireland in Yokohama on September 22.

"Stuart has done a really good job in the opportunities he's had to captain Scotland," said Townsend.

"He captained Edinburgh last season and is a real lead-by-example player, both in training and in games. He?s a calming influence and is very good at bringing the best out of others."

The omission of Jones and Hutchinson, who scored two tries on his first Test start in a 44-10 win over Georgia on Saturday, caught the eye.

Jones burst onto the Test scene with 10 tries in his first 14 appearances for the Dark Blues, but in the 18 months since he scored a sensational double in the 2018 Calcutta Cup win over England his form for club and country has dropped off considerably.

"There were a number of tough calls given the quality of our wider training squad, and on the close decisions we?ve looked to select players that have strong defensive attributes and are willing to out-work their opposite number," added Townsend.

"Some very good players have missed out on selection this time, but they know they?ll have to keep working hard because, in a World Cup, an opportunity can come around very quickly.?

With fit-again Saracens centre Duncan Taylor and Sam Johnson of Warriors the leading duo to start in midfield, Townsend has opted to take Peter Horne - who can also fill in at 10 - and Chris Harris as cover.

Adam Hastings has also been given the nod as back-up to star man Finn Russell at stand-off, despite a poor display in a 32-3 thrashing at the hands of France three weeks ago.

Prop Jamie Bhatti has paid the price for his failure to impress during that mauling in Nice, with Townsend deciding to take looseheads Allan Dell and Gordon Reid, plus the tighthead pair of Willem Nel and Zander Fagerson.

After facing the Irish, Scotland take on Samoa, Russia and hosts Japan in Pool A.

Scotland squad for the 2019 World Cup:

Forwards (17): John Barclay, Simon Berghan, Fraser Brown, Scott Cummings, Allan Dell, Zander Fagerson, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Stuart McInally (capt), Willem Nel, Gordon Reid, Jamie Ritchie, Blade Thomson, Ben Toolis, George Turner, Hamish Watson, Ryan Wilson

Backs (14): Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Adam Hastings, Stuart Hogg, George Horne, Pete Horne, Sam Johnson, Blair Kinghorn, Greig Laidlaw, Sean Maitland, Ali Price, Finn Russell, Tommy Seymour, Duncan Taylor

Coach: Gregor Townsend (SCO)