Scotland squad: Duncan Weir biggest casualty as Gregor Townsend era begins

Gregor Townsend at Murrayfield
Gregor Townsend named his first Scotland squad at Murrayfield on Monday

A squad of 34 players was always going to have a story or two - some winners and some losers in Gregor Townsend's first selection as Scotland coach.

The stand-out feel-good men of the three-Test summer tour - Italy in Singapore, Australia in Sydney and Fiji in Suva - are the three uncapped players - D'Arcy Rae, the Glasgow tight-head, George Turner, the Edinburgh hooker and Nick Grigg, the Glasgow centre.

Grigg, a Kiwi with an Ayrshire grandfather, came on the Scottish radar by way of a tip-off from the great All Black forward Andy Leslie. He's had a fine season with Glasgow.

Rae is something of a surprise, but Turner is the real bolter. The 24-year-old was once the coming man of Edinburgh rugby but he has started just one game for them in five years. Townsend has a lot of faith in Turner.

Edinburgh's Duncan Weir
Edinburgh's Duncan Weir is one of the big names to miss out on the summer tour

The biggest casualty is just as obvious. Having been included in the match-day 23 for every one of Scotland's Six Nations matches this season - coming off the bench in four of them - Duncan Weir has bitten the dust.

Townsend has picked two fly-halves, but Finn Russell's understudy is now Glasgow's Peter Horne. Ruaridh Jackson, of Harlequins, has also been selected, a third 10 who is included in the back-three category. With Russell, Horne and Jackson in the travelling party, Weir has gone from second-choice to fourth.

He's not alone among 2017 Six Nations players who are going to be left at home this summer. Simon Berghan, the Edinburgh tight-head, played three games off the bench in the championship but he's lost his place to Rae, who Townsend talked up as a consistent player who deserves his chance. WP Nel, blighted by injury since his last Test in Japan last June, is included and has started to take contact in training, a blessing for the new coach.

WP Nel
The return of WP Nel from injury could prove to be a major bonus for Townsend

Cornell du Preez, the Edinburgh back-row who made two substitute appearances in the Six Nations, has been replaced. Magnus Bradbury is in after being dropped following his one Scotland appearance against Argentina last autumn. Josh Strauss returns following injury as does Saracens' Duncan Taylor, a key addition to the squad. Rob Harley is back in the frame having falling out of contention under Vern Cotter.

Though he started in Scotland's, and Cotter's, last Test against Italy in the spring, Grant Gilchrist has missed out to his Edinburgh team-mate Ben Toolis. Others are absent through Lions selection - Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour and Greig Laidlaw - and injury - Huw Jones, Mark Bennett, Alasdair Dickinson, Rory Sutherland and Stuart McInally.

Townsend has chosen 17 Glasgow players and another 17 from Edinburgh (10) and the exiles (seven). John Barclay carries on as captain in Laidlaw's absence with Sean Maitland favourite to take over from Hogg at full-back in the Tests and Lee Jones in the box-seat to fill in for Seymour on the wing.

For the coach, there is an upside to having only three players away with the Lions and no Scottish team in contention in the Pro12 play-offs. He'll have to sweat on Barclay, Taylor and Maitland as they enter league knockouts with their clubs, but he'll have three weeks to work with the vast bulk of his squad before they depart for Singapore and another three weeks after that on tour.

The ball is now rolling on the Townsend era. Three Saturdays in June will give us the first idea what direction that era is heading in.

Scotland's John Barclay
John Barclay will skipper Scotland on tour, with Greig Laidlaw away with the Lions