SCOTLAND head coach Gregor Townsend has promoted Gary Graham to his squad for the remaining autumn Tests – even though the Newcastle Falcons flanker had previously pledged his international allegiance to England.

Graham, who was born in Stirling, is a former Scotland Under-20 international, but had previously claimed he wanted to play for England if he progressed to the senior international ranks.

The 26-year-old is a son of ex-Scotland prop and forwards coach, George Graham, but moved to Carlisle with his family when he was just three.

He returned to Scotland when he was 17, playing for Gala RFC, but spent time with Jersey before joining Falcons in 2017.

He was an unused member of England’s Six Nations squad at the start of this year, having earned a call-up on residency grounds, but with Eddie Jones having failed to select him for any of his subsequent squads, the back rower has committed to Scotland.

Townsend has selected him as a replacement for the injured Blade Thomson, and he could make his senior international debut when Scotland host South Africa at Murrayfield this weekend.

“It was great to hear from Gary that he wanted to commit to Scotland,” said Townsend. “It has become a competitive environment for dual-qualified players recently, and we know that these are not easy decisions for players.

“We’ve been tracking Gary since he was at Jersey, and his form over the past 12 months at Newcastle has moved him closer to playing international rugby. We look forward to welcoming him into our squad for this week’s camp.”

Graham has defended his decision to report for duty with England earlier this year, but insisted he has always felt Scottish.

“I’m Scottish through-and-through,” he said. “But England asked me first as I’m eligible through residency. It would have been a silly opportunity to pass up as I hadn’t been selected for a Scotland squad since Under-20s.

“I’m absolutely delighted to get this opportunity. I phoned Gregor to assure him I wanted to play for Scotland, and always wanted to play for my country. It’s where I’m from, and where I played most of my rugby.”

Graham’s selection means he will Newcastle Falcons’ Gallagher Premiership trip to Harlequins on Friday night, and is also set to be unavailable for the following weekend’s home game with Bath.