For Scotland’s exciting opener against England, Gregor Townsend has gone with the tried and trusted but there are a number of new candidates desperate to take the Six Nations by storm.
Only Ben White, one of Townsend’s five uncapped players, has reached the final 23 for the Murrayfield match.
Because they may not all be recognizable to the untrained eye, we evaluate their prospects of earning their first cap and rising to stardom in the following weeks.
For Scotland fans, a ‘Toonie tombola’ is nothing uncommon, but this specific option did not come as a huge surprise.
Christie is an age-grade player for Scotland (and England) who has quietly been making significant progress at Saracens.
The ease with which the 22-year-old has adapted to Premiership rugby, producing regular and disciplined performances, has drawn the attention of Scotland’s coaching staff, prompting Townsend to seek references from former internationals Kelly Brown and Tim Swinson.
Those who have seen Edinburgh in action this season will be familiar with the name. For those who haven’t seen it, the 26-year-old bullets around the pitch while firing similar-velocity passes.
He’s played a key role in Edinburgh’s rise up the URC table, and he’s learning under one of Scotland’s top scrum-halves, head coach Mike Blair.
Even Ali Price, the British and Irish Lions’ starting scrum-half in the summer, will be looking over his shoulder because of his form.
Glasgow Warriors back-rower Darge, 21, fits the bill as a successor for Hamish Watson Now, aged 30, Hamish’s international career will not last too much longer.
Darge is the heir to the openside throne, pinballing about defences, causing havoc at the breakdown, and filling his mantlepiece with the man of the match trophies.
Despite being the most off-the-wall inclusion in the initial group, he has already beaten his fellow newbies to the bench for England’s visit.
There’s no denying White has been a standout performer for London Irish, and he’s been selected ahead of Vellacott to fill in for Price.
A year ago, Rowe worked at an Amazon warehouse. His brown curls bouncing behind him in the wind as he flies down the flank have become a familiar sight to London Irish fans.
It was a risky decision that has paid off handsomely. If the 23-year-old had stayed at Edinburgh or Glasgow, he would have been forced to play behind a plethora of wingers, both young Scots and Argentines.