The decision to leave flanker Ryan Wilson out of Scotland’s Six Nations squad was made before he was cited for allegedly grabbing the testicles of an opposition player at the weekend, according to national coach Vern Cotter.
Wilson faces a disciplinary hearing in London today over the incident involving Northampton scrum-half Lee Dickson which, if found guilty, could result in a minimum 12-week ban.
The Glasgow player has been left out of the 35-man squad Cotter announced at BT Murrayfield yesterday but his Warriors team-mate Tim Swinson, whose citation for alleged punching will also be heard today, was included.
“We made a decision with Ryan before he was cited,” explained Cotter. “We have been happy with the way he has been improving but we feel that other players are perhaps playing better than he is at the moment.
“He’ll go through a hearing process and is one of those players who could come in as the competition goes on. We know it’s attritional and we’ll lose players. I had a good talk with him last week and he is focusing on a couple of things to improve his game.”
On the incident at Northampton, Cotter added: “It seemed to me that he was just reaching for a pair of shorts but there will be other people who make the decision.”
The coach admitted that the squad named includes a number of players with injury doubts hanging over them, the most high-profile of which is centre Mark Bennett, who has been included but faces a battle to recover from his shoulder injury in time to make the opening Six Nations match at home to England on 6 February.
“It seems better than first when we were thinking six weeks, two months,” said Cotter. “He could be available if all goes well. He’s got to follow his rehab protocols and fingers crossed he could be available for that first game... maybe.”
He added: “At the moment there is probably half a dozen players who, if we had to play this weekend, couldn’t play. There were 33 players who participated in the last Six Nations and we’d imagine it will be similar again. So for those players it will be important they get rehab and perhaps go back to their clubs before they pull on a Scotland jersey.”
Props Zander Fagerson of Glasgow, who turned 20 yesterday, and 23-year-old Rory Sutherland of Edinburgh have also been included as the only uncapped selections. Scarlets flanker John Barclay, who suffered the disappointment of missing out on the World Cup squad, earns a recall.