Defending champions Scotland A have unveiled a 26-man squad with a blend of youth and experience for the IRB Nations Cup, which takes place in the Romania capital of Bucharest from 11-20 June.
Scotland A won the title on their debut in the six-tournament last year and have eight full internationals in their squad, including Ally Hogg, Nikki Walker and Scott MacLeod, along with six newcomers to the representative side.
One of these newcomers to the A team is flanker Chris Fusaro, who played for Scotland Under 20s in last year's IRB Junior World Championship in Japan and is set to join Glasgow Warriors next season.
"I was very surprised to get the call up, it came totally out of the blue," admitted Fusaro. "I'm really looking forward to the tour though. It's going to be a great experience to go to Romania. I hope to get some game-time and gain some experience, but no matter what chances I get, I know I have to take them."
Another youngster in the squad is Alex Blair, the younger brother of Scotland co-captain Mike who was due to travel to Argentina with Scotland's Under 20s until it was decided his development would be better aided by playing for the A side.
Winning aids development
Scotland A coach Sean Lineen has challenged the squad to create a winning habit at the stadionul National Arcul de Triumf as he believes this is the best way to improve and boost their chances of making the full test side.
"I'm excited," admitted Lineen, who will name his captain at a later date. "With the senior Scotland squad going to Argentina this year, this is a real opportunity for another group of players to shine."
The Scots will open their Nations Cup title defence against Georgia, who will be Scotland's second opponents at Rugby World Cup 2011, before facing Namibia on 15 June and then Argentina A five days later.
"When you look at the teams we're facing, we have three very tough games. Obviously we're going over there to defend the Cup, but there's more pressure on us this year as the holders.
"There's a good mix of youth and experience, but it is mainly youth, however the best tool for these players' development is winning."
Scotland A squad:
Forwards: Geoff Cross (Edinburgh), James Eddie, Calum Forrester (both Glasgow Warriors), Chris Fusaro (Heriot's), Roddy Grant, Ryan Grant, Ally Hogg, Andrew Kelly, Scott MacLeod (all Edinburgh), Fergus Thomson (Glasgow Warriors), Kyle Traynor, Steven Turnbull (both Edinburgh), Richie Vernon, Jon Welsh (both Glasgow Warriors).
Backs: Alex Blair, David Blair, Ben Cairns (all Edinburgh), Jack Cuthbert (Bath), Rob Dewey (Glasgow Warriors), John Houston, Greig Laidlaw (both Edinburgh), Mark McMillan (Glasgow Warriors), Bryan Rennie (Exeter Chiefs), Mark Robertson (Edinburgh), Colin Shaw (Scotland Sevens), Nikki Walker (Ospreys).
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