Stuart Hogg: Scotland leave door open for full-back to return in captain role as his and Finn Russell absence explained
Hogg and Finn Russell are the most notable absentees from the 40-man squad which includes six uncapped players in Edinburgh trio Ben Muncaster, Matt Currie and Glen Young, Glasgow pair Murphy Walker and Ollie Smith and London Irish winger Kyle Rowe.
Grant Gilchrist, the Edinburgh lock, has been named as captain for the four-match tour which begins with an A international against Chile in Santiago on June 25 and continues with a three-Test series against Argentina in July.
Townsend said the decision not to pick Hogg and Russell was not connected to the breach of team protocols during the Six Nations when the pair were among a group of six who went on an unauthorised night out in Edinburgh after returning from Rome. The national coach said their omission was based on the amount of rugby they had played and the need for them to rest and recover from niggling injuries.
Chris Harris has been left out for the same reasons. All three were part of the Lions tour last summer and went from South Africa straight into the new season with their clubs.
“That incident had nothing to do with this squad,” said Townsend. “We looked closely at what the three Lions guys had done this season because they are the players who had played the most rugby the year before, playing right through till August. Stuart Hogg, in particular, has played more minutes than anybody.”
The coach said Hogg was keen to go on the tour of Argentina but was persuaded that it would be in his best interests to rest.
Speaking in the aftermath of the Six Nations incident in March, Townsend had refused to confirm if Hogg would continue as national captain but the coach was more conciliatory on Wednesday about the prospect of the full-back returning as skipper for the autumn Tests.
“Conversations are always ongoing,” said Townsend “We learned a lot on and off the field during the Six Nations, and that week ended up being disappointing for us that it was in the public domain. It was an incident that happens from time to time, when you come together and you learn from it.”
Townsend said he had spoken to the players individually and as a group.
“Those discussions are obviously private but I would hope that we have all learned from that, and Stuart has been an excellent captain for us. He’s been consistently one of our best players, not just as captain but before that, and he had a really good Six Nations.
“So, there is time for him to reflect and things for him to work on as captain, just as there is for him as a player.
“My hope and my belief is that we’ll get to that stage in November where he wants to be captain and he’s in a position where he can be a strong captain for Scotland. That’s the goal.
“Now, if that doesn’t happen it is either because he doesn’t want to do it, or because we’ve seen someone else come through, or their circumstances – but I can’t predict that.”
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