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Bryce shocked by Scotland call-up


London Irish flanker Blair Cowan, pictured, is in Vern Cotter's first Scotland selection

London Irish flanker Blair Cowan, pictured, is in Vern Cotter's first Scotland selection

London Irish flanker Blair Cowan, pictured, is in Vern Cotter's first Scotland selection

Vern Cotter's first Scotland selection surprised even some of the 43 players who were chosen for the summer tour of the Americas and South Africa.

Glasgow hooker Kevin Bryce - who has only made two substitutes appearances in professional rugby - was among six uncapped players named across two separate squads for the North American and Southern Hemisphere legs of the June schedule.

Bryce's fellow Warriors forwards Gordon Reid and Alex Allan were named along with fly-half Finn Russell while London Irish flanker Blair Cowan and Edinburgh scrum-half Grayson Hart complete the group aiming to make their debuts.

There was no place for Glasgow captain Al Kellock or prop Euan Murray, who was recently released by Worcester.

The nine players who will play a full part in the tour, which sees Scotland face the United States, Canada, Argentina and South Africa, are Reid, Pat MacArthur, Bryce, Moray Low, Geoff Cross, Grant Gilchrist and backs Alex Dunbar, Sean Maitland and Stuart Hogg.

Bryce spent most of the season playing for Heriot's but is signed up for Glasgow for the next two seasons.

The 25-year-old said of his call-up: "I was over the moon and gobsmacked at the same time. I've hardly played any professional rugby so to get the call-up was a shock.

"I never had any hope, I was just minding my business and training hard with Glasgow, but then I got the call.

"My last game was for Caley Reds against Newcastle Falcons about two weeks ago. If you had told me after that that I would be in the Scotland squad I would have said you are having a laugh.

"It puts it in perspective, playing club rugby so much for Heriot's and only having two games for Glasgow off the bench, you are not thinking at all that you will be involved with Scotland. But it's a massive honour and I'm proud to be part of it."

Bryce added: "My aim for this season was just to get more game time for Glasgow and get into the starting squad.

"It's been pretty tough because there's a few hookers at the club and the boys are playing really well now. I'm just learning off them.

"Even though I've had minimum game time I've still been happy because I have been training hard behind closed doors and things have been going well for me."

Russell has also had a meteoric rise - although his call-up came after he played a central role in Glasgow's RaboDirect Pro12 semi-final win over Munster on Friday.

"You definitely start to think about it when you get regular games for Glasgow but it's hard to believe," the 21-year-old said.

"It was surreal getting the call and it's still not really sunk in yet.

"It's been a whirlwind, especially because two months ago I was playing with Ayr. To be hopefully playing in the final and going on the summer tour, it's crazy.

"When you are back playing with Ayr, you are just hoping you get a couple of games with Glasgow and it has all changed."

Edinburgh pair Jack Cuthbert and Matt Scott and new Bristol signing Ross Rennie would have been included but for injury along with Glasgow forward Ryan Wilson, who was ruled out for several months with a shoulder injury on Monday.

The SRU also announced that a number of players would not tour because of elective surgery or possible involvement in the Commonwealth Games sevens tournament.

Cotter, who takes over from Scott Johnson, told www.scottishrugby.org: "Working with Scott Johnson and the national coaches, we've selected, effectively, two squads for our itinerary this summer taking into account Glasgow Warriors' pursuit of Pro 12 silverware and the fact that our match against South Africa falls out-with the IRB Regulation 9 window.

"We've included a mix of the battle-hardened and promising new talent and it will be good to see how players step up to tough and different challenges at the end of a long domestic campaign."

There are 10 Glasgow players in the squad for the first leg of the tour, which kicks off seven days after Warriors take on Leinster in the Pro12 final in Dublin on May 31. They are Allan, Bryce, MacArthur, Reid, Dunbar, Hogg, Lamont, Sean Maitland, Russell and Sale-bound Chris Cusiter.

Scotland face the US in Houston on June 7, Canada in Toronto a week later, Argentina in Cordoba on June 20 and South Africa in Port Elizabeth on June 28.