Glen Young tipped for Scotland recall this Six Nations

Rejuvenated Edinburgh lock Glen Young has been backed to win a recall to the Scotland squad for the Six Nations after a change of fortunes under new coach Sean Everitt.

The 29-year-old has featured in all 11 games for the capital club this season, one more than he managed in the whole of last term. He has started nine of them, all but one alongside co-captain Grant Gilchrist in the second row, and impressed with his lineout prowess and athleticism around the field.

The former Harlequin’s consistent excellence has propelled him back into Scotland contention after making his debut on the 2022 summer tour of Argentina and winning a third cap off the bench in their final autumn Test later that year – also against the Pumas – before falling out of favour.

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With Leicester’s Cameron Henderson ruled out for the rest of season with a knee injury and Jonny Gray yet to make his return for Exeter, Gregor Townsend is assessing his back-up options for the more established Richie Gray, Grant Gilchrist and Scott Cummings as the head coach prepares to announce his Six Nations squad on Tuesday.

Young’s form seems likely to be rewarded, a pre-season chat with Everitt after the South African’s arrival last summer having ignited a change in the 6ft 7in Borderer’s approach.

“We had a conversation at the beginning of the season and chatted about where he wanted to go,” Everitt said. “Obviously he was not happy with the amount of game time he had in the previous campaign but ultimately it’s the player who has responsibility for the amount of time he gets. He needs to perform in training and on a Saturday, and if he’s consistent and one of the top performers in his position, he will get recognised. That is what Glen wanted and that is what he’s got.

“He has worked extremely hard to get to where he is now and the form is in, so much so that we can select him at blindside flanker. His lineout contesting is one of his great strengths.

“He may be 29 but there are positions to challenge for and he would certainly love to play for Scotland – that is his motivation. He’s a family man and wears his heart on his sleeve and his work-rate and effort is to be commended.

“He needed to work on his effort off the ball to get himself into better positions to carry, and also on his physicality in his ball carrying. When you look at the line-break in our last game against Glasgow when we broke down the left wing with Ali Price, Glen was one of the first players there – in the number four jersey – so he has really responded and he is enjoying his rugby at the moment.

“His set-piece is his strength and he’s comfortable calling the lineout when Grant Gilchrist isn’t there. At the same time, he’s versatile and athletic and mobile, and blindside is a good option for him when we have stock in the lock positions.”

Young has been moved to the No.6 jersey for Saturday’s sold-out European Challenge Cup fixture against Gloucester at the Hive Stadium. That versatility may prove key to maintaining a regular place now that Sam Skinner, another Scotland lock, has returned to fitness.

The former Exeter Chief missed the first half of the campaign with a knee injury but makes his return on Saturday. Although he only has one match to prove his fitness before Townsend names his squad, Everitt believes the 28-year-old, capped 30 times, has credit in the bank.

“With the experience and quality of a player like Sam, I’m sure he will always be on the national team’s radar,” Everitt added. “Unfortunately he had a setback in his return to play and was out for longer than expected.

“But he’s got this game to show what he is worth. He also had 30 minutes against Glasgow ‘A’ in the week prior to the game [against Glasgow] at Murrayfield and did some good things in that game, when Gregor was there watching.

“Sometimes as a coach you will always go back to the players you know and trust. I’m sure Sam and Gregor have a good relationship and hopefully he does enough to convince Gregor he is the man for the job.”

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