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.
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.