Scotland announce provisional World Cup squad

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The Independent Online

Four uncapped players have been named in Scotland head coach Andy Robinson's provisional squad for the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

Glasgow forwards Rob Harley and Ryan Grant are joined by Edinburgh flanker David Denton and Bath full-back Jack Cuthbert on the 40-man list.

A summer of training will build towards Test matches with Ireland (August 6) and Italy (August 20), with a deadline of August 22 for the final 30-man squad to be named.

Should Chris Paterson be included in the final squad, he would become the first Scot to play in four World Cup tournaments.

Robinson said: "I'm pleased with the squad.

"There's a good blend of the experienced, the battle-hardened and up-and-coming talent.

"The task that lies ahead for these players now is to be at the very peak of their powers in order to do themselves, their families, friends and country proud in New Zealand in September and October.

"Scotland have always qualified from the pool stages to reach the quarter-finals at the six previous Rugby World Cup tournaments and that has to be our first target this autumn."

Scotland's World Cup campaign begins against Romania in Invercargill on September 10.

Robinson's men also play Georgia in Invercargill on September 14, Argentina in Wellington on September 25 and England in Auckland on October 1, with two teams from the pool progressing to the quarter-finals.

Home-based Scotland players will begin their training camp on Monday, June 20, with discussions ongoing as to when players plying their club rugby away from Edinburgh and Glasgow will join the squad.

Robinson added: "All of our players will be on individual development programmes aimed at improving them as rugby players through a combination of fitness, strength and conditioning, led by Neill Potts and his team, and skills coaching.

"Amicable discussions are continuing with Exile players who are at PRL (Premier Rugby Limited) clubs in England in order that they will be able to join the training camp as soon as possible thereafter."

Glasgow centre Graeme Morrison returns after missing the entire RBS 6 Nations with a knee injury, while Castres-bound Max Evans has been included despite also missing the end of the Warriors' season after undergoing elbow surgery.

Chris Cusiter, who has not played a Test match since the 2010 Six Nations campaign, has also been selected after it was announced on Sunday the British and Irish Lions scrum-half will spend a month playing in Australia to build fitness for the World Cup.

Cusiter has played three games since making his comeback from a knee problem and will now be available for four matches with Sydney-based Southern Districts before vying with Rory Lawson, Mike Blair and Greig Laidlaw for the scrum-half places in the final squad.

One player involved in the Six Nations but not in the provisional squad is Scott MacLeod, after the 24-cap lock quit Edinburgh for Japan and made himself unavailable for internationals.

Scotland provisional squad for the IRB Rugby World Cup 2011:

Backs - Joe Ansbro (Northampton Saints); Mike Blair, Ben Cairns (both Edinburgh), Chris Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors), Jack Cuthbert (Bath), Simon Danielli (Ulster), Nick De Luca (Edinburgh), Max Evans (Glasgow Warriors), Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh), Rory Lamont (Toulon), Sean Lamont (Scarlets), Rory Lawson (Gloucester), Graeme Morrison (Glasgow Warriors), Dan Parks (Cardiff Blues), Chris Paterson (Edinburgh), Hugo Southwell (Stade Francais), Nikki Walker (Ospreys).

Forwards - John Barclay, John Beattie (both Glasgow Warriors), Kelly Brown (Saracens), Geoff Cross, David Denton (both Edinburgh), Alasdair Dickinson (Gloucester), Ross Ford (Edinburgh), Ryan Grant, Richie Gray, Dougie Hall (all Glasgow Warriors), Jim Hamilton (Gloucester), Robert Harley (Glasgow Warriors), Nathan Hines (Leinster), Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh), Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), Scott Lawson (Gloucester), Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors), Euan Murray (Newcastle Falcons), Ross Rennie (Edinburgh), Alasdair Strokosch (Gloucester), Fergus Thomson, Richie Vernon (both Glasgow Warriors).