Jamie Farndale has recovered from a broken leg to take his place in the Scotland Under 20 squad for IRB Junior World Championship 2013 in France, a tournament at which coach Sean Lineen is determined to beat their previous best of ninth.
The 19-year-old, who suffered the injury playing for Edinburgh Accies in September, was the top try scorer at the 2012 tournament in South Africa where, despite finishing ninth, Scotland were the highest try scorers across the 12 teams.
“Our ambition in France will be to get into the top four,” admitted Lineen, in his first season as Scotland Under 20 coach.
“It’s going to be very tough. We’ve got Argentina first up and they’ve just completed a three-match tournament against South Africa. They’re very physical and that will be a massive game.
“Then we’ve got Wales four days later. Wales were third in the competition last year and they’re a formidable team. Our final pool game is against Samoa and that will be another big physical challenge.”
Lineen has been heartened by the improvements of his side across the Six Nations, where they beat Italy and Ireland and were denied a first ever win over France at this level by a last-gasp drop goal in Brive last month.
“The levels of commitment, ambition to play and desire to work hard for each other were all features of that match (against France) and we’ll need more of the same in the Junior World Championship,” he added.
Scotland will be captained by Jonny Gray, the younger brother of Richie who himself played on the Junior World Championship stage back in 2009 and has since amassed more than 30 Test caps for his country.
Scotland Under 20 squad
Forwards: Jamie Bhatti (Stirling County), Shawn Muir (Hawick), Phil Cringle (Edinburgh Rugby/Stewart’s-Melville FP), Russell Anderson (Gala), Callum Black (Edinburgh Accies), Reyner Kennedy (Stirling County), D’Arcy Rae (Ayr), Robbie Wilson (Boroughmuir), Ruairidh Leishman (Stirling County), Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors/Currie - captain), Adam Sinclair (Perpignan), Alex Henderson (Boroughmuir), Adam Ashe (Glasgow Warriors/Stirling County), Tommy Spinks (London Scottish), Will Bordill (Sale Sharks) and Andy Cramond (Aberdeen Grammar).
Backs: Ruairidh Young (Edinburgh Accies), Rory Hughes (Scotland 7s/Stirling County), Damien Hoyland (Boroughmuir), Jamie Farndale (Edinburgh Rugby/Edinburgh Accies), J J Kilmartin (Bath Rugby), Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors/Stirling County), Robbie Fergusson (Ayr), Chris Auld (Gala), Tommy Allan (Perpignan), Alex Hagart (Aberdeen Grammar Rugby), Ali Price (Bedford Blues) and Scott Steele (Leicester Tigers).