Finn Russell and Richie Gray return to Scotland fold

Finn Russell and Richie Gray are back in the Scotland squad for the autumn international series.

Racing 92 fly-half Russell left the Scotland camp following a disciplinary issue ahead of the Guinness Six Nations opener in January but his relationship with head coach Gregor Townsend has since repaired and he is named in a 40-man squad.

Gray returns after a lengthy absence, after twice turning down a chance to join the World Cup training squad last year for family and fitness reasons.

The lock won his 55th and most recent cap against Italy in 2018 in his only international of that year.

A head injury ruled him out of the first four games of this year’s Six Nations but he could now feature in the final match against Wales on October 31 following his return to Glasgow from a spell in France.

Newly-qualified Scots Oli Kebble and Duhan Van Der Merwe are among three uncapped players in the squad along with Harlequins scrum-half and former Scotland youth international, Scott Steele.

London Irish flanker Blair Cowan has won an unexpected recall at the age of 34, four years after last featuring.

Scarlets back-row forward Blade Thomson and Harlequins centre James Lang are also back in the squad.

Townsend said in a statement: “We are very much looking forward to coming back together as a coaching and playing group after such an unprecedented and challenging period in our sport and across society in general.

“There was a strong feeling that we were growing as a team during the Six Nations earlier this year, making progress from game-to-game as well as building closer bonds within the squad.

“Our aim is to keep this momentum going as we take on Georgia and Wales before competing in the Autumn Nations Cup in November.

“The squad we have selected is formed by the majority of the players we worked with in the Six Nations alongside players who have grabbed their opportunity in the past few weeks and have been in form for their respective teams.

“Given the lack of games since March, there will be opportunities for players out-with the squad to break into our group over the next few weeks, but for now the focus is on this group that will be in camp from tomorrow (Tuesday).

“It will be great to see some familiar faces, welcome a few back into our squad and also introduce some new players to Test match rugby.”

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