UNCAPPED Bath stand-off Tom Heathcote has been called into the Scotland squad for Saturday’s international against Tonga in Aberdeen.
The Inverness-born 20-year-old has previously played age-group rugby for England, but said last night that he was “delighted” to be selected for Scotland.
“I am delighted to be called up to the Scotland squad,” said Heathcote, who joined the group last night in Aberdeen. “I’ve always known I was eligible to play for Scotland and I’m grateful to be given this opportunity.”
Scotland head coach Andy Robinson added: “Tom has worked his way into the Bath first team squad from the academy and we’ve been monitoring his progress for the last couple of years.”
Five players have been released from the squad and will be available for their clubs’ home matches in the RaboDirect PRO12 on Friday night, when Glasgow Warriors play Leinster and Edinburgh host Ospreys. Ruaridh Jackson, Alex Dunbar and Tom Ryder have returned to Glasgow, and Lee Jones and Allan Jacobsen, who has now retired from international rugby, are back with Edinburgh.
Scotland medical staff are expected to assess the squad today, with Richie Gray a particular concern after being concussed against South Africa on Saturday. The Sale Sharks lock lasted only 20 minutes against the Springboks, and Scotland will consult with his club before deciding whether to include him this weekend. The team for that match will be announced tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Scotland have fallen from ninth to tenth in the latest world rankings released yesterday. Samoa have overtaken them and are now in touching distance of a place in the second group of seedings for next year’s Rugby World Cup.
The Samoans, who won 26-19 in Cardiff last Friday, are now just 0.16 rating points behind Wales, who lie eighth. The right combination of results this weekend could see the Pacific islanders, who play France in Paris, overtake Wales, who are at home to New Zealand. Scotland cannot overtake Samoa whatever happens this weekend, and so will be in Band Three of the pool allocation draw when it takes place early next month.