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Scottish Rugby World Cup: Winners and losers from Scotland’s 41-man training squad

After Gregor Townsend unveiled his 41-man training squad for the upcoming Scottish Rugby World Cup, Planet Rugby took a closer look at the players who emerged as winners and those who may have lost out on the opportunity. Although it was expected that RWC 2023 player Stuart Hogg would be cut, Gregor Townsend may have been worried about the recent comments that Hogg hasn't been enjoying his RWC.

By eticketing coPublished 11 months ago 5 min read
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Winners

Post-Rugby World Cup retirees

Although it was expected that RWC 2023 player Stuart Hogg would be cut, Gregor Townsend may have been worried about the recent comments that Hogg hasn't been enjoying his RWC. Hogg's recent form for both club and country has been lackluster, but with this being his last Scottish Rugby World Cup, there is an added incentive for him to perform well.

Stuart McInally is in a similar position as he joins Ewan Ashman, Dave Cherry, and George Turner as one the hookers in the extended squad. McInally has been a top-class performer at his best, but he has struggled with fitness and form over the past year. However, as he plans to retire after the Rugby World Cup 2023 to pursue a career as a pilot, he has one final opportunity to showcase his talent at the highest level.

Stafford McDowall

Despite being one of only two uncapped players in the squad, Glasgow Warriors' talented center has been knocking on the door for some time now. At 6ft 4in tall and weighing over 16th, McDowall certainly possesses the physical attributes to compete at the international level. However, his skill set is just as impressive.

Although it will be difficult for McDowall to secure a spot in the starting XV, given the success of the "Huwipulotu" partnership during the Six Nations, he will have the chance to make his case during the warm-up matches. It's an exciting opportunity to see how he performs and if he can cement his place in the team.

Cameron Henderson

Another uncapped player who has earned his place in the squad is Henderson, who has had a great season with Leicester Tigers. The 23-year-old previously played for Glasgow before joining Tigers in 2020, and he has steadily improved over the past two years, culminating in a regular spot in the team during the 2022/23 season.

Henderson is a versatile player, bringing both intelligence and physicality to the pitch. He's an excellent lineout option and has shown that he's not afraid to put himself about in a tough pack. With Jonny Gray's participation in the global tournament uncertain, this youngster has a real opportunity to prove himself and potentially secure a place in Scotland's final 23.

Murphy Walker

Despite missing out on the Six Nations due to a neck injury and not playing since December 2022, Walker has been highly regarded by Townsend and has earned a place in the RWC 2023 squad upon his return. Although he currently plays second fiddle to Zander Fagerson for both his club and country.

The experienced tighthead is an excellent player to learn from, and the coaching staff values his set-piece abilities, which they rate higher than those of Simon Berghan, another Warriors tighthead.

Berghan made appearances in two matches during the Six Nations against England and Ireland but has been left out of the extended training squad for the upcoming tournament in France.

This opens up a significant opportunity for Walker to compete against Fagerson and reserve prop WP Nel from Edinburgh for a spot in the final 23. Although Javan Sebastian from Scarlets is also in the mix, the Glasgow youngster is currently higher up in the pecking order. Rugby World Cup 2023 fans can buy Scotland Vs Tonga Tickets from our website. Adam Hastings

This selection of Hastings seems to be based largely on his reputation, as the Gloucester player has been struggling with injuries throughout this season. He made an appearance in the Autumn Nations Series against Fiji but had to take a break of over a month after a hard tackle during the match.

When he returned in December, he sustained a shoulder injury, requiring surgery and sidelining him again for his first game back. Hastings made his comeback in April and has since played two matches.

Against Sale Sharks and Bristol Bears in the Premiership, although he has looked understandably rusty. When he is at his top, the 27-year-old is Scotland's second-choice fly-half after Finn Russell, but he will have to show himself over in the following few months.

Losers

Magnus Bradbury

Since joining the Bristol Bears, Bradbury's international aspirations have suffered, as he has not been able to make the squad yet. His last appearance for the Scottish Rugby World Cup squad was in the first Test against Argentina in July of last year, and it seems that he has slipped further down the pecking order since then.

Although Bristol had a forgettable season, Bradbury was a standout player and featured in 18 out of 21 Premiership matches. He was even awarded the club's Players' Player of the Season award, indicating his excellent performance throughout the year.

Jonny Gray

Despite being an experienced second-rower, Gray has been ruled out of the third RWC due to injury. Gray's kneecap was dislocated during Exeter Chiefs' 47-28 Champions Cup semi-final defeat to La Rochelle, which has dashed his hopes of participating in the tournament in France. This news is a huge disappointment for Gray, as well as for Scotland, as he has consistently proven his quality at the highest level.

Centers miss out

Despite their undeniable talent, Mark Bennett, Sam Johnson, and Rory Hutchinson were not selected for the Scottish Rugby World Cup team. The midfield options for Scotland are so strong that even with a larger squad, some talented players had to miss out. McDowall's impressive form for Glasgow this season earned him a place in the squad.

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