RUGBY UNION: Uncapped Mayer wins call to Scottish squad

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The Independent Online
SCOTLAND HAVE announced a 27-man squad for their four autumn internationals against New Zealand Maoris, South Africa and the two Rugby World Cup qualifying matches against Portugal and Spain - all at Murrayfield.

The only uncapped player in the squad is Jamie Mayer, the Edinburgh Reivers centre. The former Scottish Schools and Scotland Under-21 cap has established himself in the Edinburgh Reivers side ahead of the British Lions Scott Hastings and Alan Tait and now looks a strong bet to win his first Scotland jersey this season. "Jamie was one of the finds on the tour of Australia," Jim Telfer, the Scotland coach, said.

The notable absentees from the squad are Tony Stanger, who finds himself behind James Craig, Cammie Murray and Shaun Longstaff for the wing position, the British Lion Craig Chalmers, who has had to understudy Duncan Hodge in the Edinburgh Reivers side, and Derrick Lee, who played in all three Tests on the Scotland tour of Fiji and Australia.

Commenting on the omission of Chalmers, Telfer said: "We believe the best two stand-offs just now are Gregor Townsend and Duncan Hodge. Gregor has played eight matches for Brive at both stand-off and inside centre. We will watch him this weekend against Portugal in the European Shield game."

In the forwards, there is a return to the squad for the British Lion Tom Smith, who missed all of last season because of a serious groin injury. "It is great to have him back in the squad. I just hope that people don't expect too much from him too soon," Telfer said.

Bristol yesterday signed George Leaupepe, the Western Samoan World Cup centre, on a two-year contract. The 24-year-old Wellington Hurricanes Super 12 player, who featured against England in the 1995 World Cup and helped Western Samoa secure a quarter-final tie with the eventual winners South Africa, will join his new team-mates late next month. He is currently involved with Western Samoa's World Cup qualifying campaign in Australia, then has National Provincial Championship commitments in New Zealand for Manukau, where his colleagues include Jonah Lomu and Joeli Vidiri, the All Black wings.

Jos Baxendell, who made his England debut during last summer's Southern Hemisphere tour, is set to return at fly-half for Manchester Sale when they face Harlequins at Heywood Road tomorrow.

Baxendell came through a development team game against Saracens on Tuesday without reaction to a rib injury.

SCOTLAND SQUAD (Autumn tours): Backs: G Armstrong (Newcastle Falcons), J Craig (Glasgow Caledonians), H Gilmour (Edinburgh Reivers), D Hodge (Edinburgh Reivers), S Longstaff (Glasgow Caledonians), J Mayer (Edinburgh Reivers), G Metcalfe (Glasgow Caledonians), C Murray (Edinburgh Reivers), B Redpath (Edinburgh Reivers), R Shepherd (Edinburgh Reivers), A Tait (Edinburgh Reivers), G Townsend (Brive). Forwards: G Bulloch (Glasgow Caledonians), S Grimes (Glasgow Caledonians), D Hilton (Bath), C Mather (Edinburgh Reivers), G McKelvey (Edinburgh Reivers), K McKenzie (Glasgow Caledonians), G McIlwham (Glasgow Caledonians), S Murray (Bedford), E Peters (Bath), M Proudfoot (Edinburgh Reivers), A Roxburgh (Edinburgh Reivers), G Simpson (Glasgow Caledonians), T Smith (Glasgow Caledonians), R Wainwright (Glasgow Caledonians), D Weir (Newcastle Falcons).