Head coach Frank Hadden today named a 33-man Scotland squad to prepare for their opening match in the 2009 RBS 6 Nations Championship against Wales at Murrayfield.
The squad will convene next Monday (26 January) for a three-day training camp and Hadden believes they approach the visit of the 2008 Grand Slam champions in good heart.
"I'm delighted by the number of players who are putting up their hands as genuine candidates for international selection.
"The victories of both pro-teams last weekend and the manner in which they achieved their results is also very encouraging as are our ticket sales to date with our home match against Ireland sold-out and now more than 60,000 tickets sold for our opening game against Wales.
"Momentum is vital in such a short round of matches so we know the importance of starting well and getting a big Scottish crowd behind us.
"Wales are the current Grand Slam champions. Their regional format is working efficiently and paying dividends. They are a settled, star-studded side and they proved with their win against Australia during the Autumn Tests that they are currently one of the best sides in the world."
Two members of the squad are uncapped: prop Geoff Cross, 26, who made his Scotland A debut in the November win against Georgia and was also on last summer's national tour to Argentina; and stand-off Ruaridh Jackson, 20, who has already represented Scotland A and Scotland 7s.
Scotland squad (sponsor Murray) to face Wales in the RBS 6 Nations Championship on Sunday 8 February at Murrayfield, kick-off 3pm
Backs - Mike Blair CAPTAIN, Ben Cairns (both Edinburgh), Chris Cusiter (Perpignan), Simon Danielli (Ulster), Nick De Luca (Edinburgh), Thom Evans, Max Evans (both Glasgow Warriors), Phil Godman (Edinburgh), Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), Sean Lamont (Northampton Saints), Rory Lawson (Gloucester), Graeme Morrison, Dan Parks (both Glasgow Warriors), Chris Paterson, Hugo Southwell and Simon Webster (all Edinburgh)
Forwards - John Barclay, Kelly Brown (both Glasgow Warriors), Geoff Cross (Edinburgh), Alasdair Dickinson (Gloucester), Ross Ford (Edinburgh), Scott Gray (Northampton Saints), Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors), Craig Hamilton, Jim Hamilton (both Edinburgh), Nathan Hines (Perpignan), Allister Hogg, Allan Jacobsen (both Edinburgh), Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), Euan Murray (Northampton Saints), Alasdair Strokosch (Gloucester), Simon Taylor (Stade Francais), Jason White (Sale Sharks).
Scottish Rugby confirmed today that more than 60,000 tickets have now been sold for the Scotland v Wales match. Just over 7,000 tickets remain available for sale.
Tickets cost £30, £45 and £60 for adults and £15, £22.50 and £30 for under-18s for the match against Wales.
Tickets are also on sale for the Murrayfield game against Italy on Saturday 28 February (kick-off 3pm). Adult prices are £20, £30 and £60, while the concession prices of £10, £15 and £30 include full-time students as well as under-18s.
Supporters can buy tickets in three ways: via the 24-hour credit-card hotline (tel: 0871 200 1511); online via www.scottishrugby.org <http://www.scottishrugby.org/> ; or in person from the Scottish Rugby Ticket Centre, Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. The Ticket Centre is open from 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday.
Welsh players and management joined Deputy Minister for Sport Ken Skates at the Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay earlier this week to reveal the Union's pioneering school-club hub initiative has been so successful the project will now almost double the scale of the original project.
The Scarlets, Newport Gwent Dragons, Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys look ahead to Judgement Day III which sees the Blues take on the Ospreys (2.30) and the Dragons tackle the Scarlets (4.45pm) at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
Ystradgynlais and Ynysddu played out a titanic struggle at Taffs Well in the SSE SWALEC Bowl semi-final. At the end of the game neither team could be separated after a 15-15 stalemate but Ystradgynlais go through on try count.
Blues strike first in JD III battle - Newport Gwent Dragons lock Andrew Coombs, WRU referee Dylan Llyr Jones and Cardiff Blues hooker Matthew Rees decide dressing room allocations for Judgement Day III
Wales Under 18 captain Calum Haggett has received a conditional offer to read Biomedical Science at St Anne's College, Oxford. WRU chairman Gareth Davies went to meet Calum and Coleg y Cymoedd Principal Judith Evans to wish him luck in his exams and pass on some of his personal experience.
Dodgy tattoos, carthorses, Avatar and soft chins are revealed by Wales Sevens players Tom Williams and Sam Cross as they profile the Wales Sevens squad taking part in Hong Kong this weekend in the latest round of the HSBC Sevens World Series.