The Scotland medical team provided the following squad update yesterday after another physical and mental hammering down at the Cabbage Patch.
Replacement back Mark Bennett – who replaced injured full-back Stuart Hogg in the 18th minute – left the field after playing just four minutes with a knee and arm injury. The knee injury looked largely self-inflicted in the act of one of his trademark sidesteps. He will be “subject to further care and assessment” but it is now expected that he will take no further part in the current RBS 6 Nations Championship.
Three players are being treated for concussion (Hogg, Tommy Seymour and Ryan Wilson) and are now subject to the completion of the HIA protocol. This can be completed in as few as 6 days with constant medical attention as John Hardie did earlier in the tournament, but is usually more like 2-3 weeks if concussed.
Finn Russell, Huw Jones (both knee) and Richie Gray (hamstring) will also have precautionary scans at Spire Murrayfield Hospital early in the week following musculoskeletal complaints arising the morning after the match.
As reader Ross pointed out in the comments on the match report, assuming the worst case scenario and all these injuries exact their toll, that leaves us with the following players in the official squad as called up pre-tournament:
Alex Allan, Simon Berghan, Allan Dell, Zander Fagerson, Gordon Reid, Jon Welsh
Fraser Brown, Ross Ford, Stuart McInally
Jonny Gray, Grant Gilchrist, Tim Swinson, Ben Toolis
John Barclay, Cornell Du Preez, Rob Harley, Hamish Watson
Ali Price, Henry Pyrgos, Duncan Weir
Alex Dunbar, Matt Scott
Damien Hoyland, Sean Maitland, Tim Visser
No call-ups have yet been made to the squad despite ongoing injury issues since the France game, but that may change this week.
There is also now the possibility Scotland will be without Fraser Brown who has been cited for his “red card if it happens after 5 minutes not 2” tackle on Elliot Daly. The cited offence is dangerous tackling. The disciplinary hearing, before an independent Six Nations Disciplinary Committee of three, is scheduled for London on Tuesday 14 March. It is likely he will see some sort of ban that rules him out of the Italy game.
The pack is in decent shape but some back row cover in the shape of Magnus Bradbury would help. Dave Denton is a possibility too but my guess is they’ll go with players they can get quickly. We’ve still got our current “best” props of Reid/Fagerson available, our captain (Barclay) and our best-performing forward (Watson) and could probably fashion a pack to trouble Italy:
Reid, Ford, Fagerson, Gray, Swinson, Barclay, Watson, Du Preez
Out back it’s highly likely to be a return to a “functional” backline as often seen in recent years and to be honest the sort of thing that we had hoped was in the past…
Duncan Taylor could be prised from Saracens’ grasp but is unlikely to be fit; more likely is a call up for Glasgow’s Nick Grigg in the centre. Pete Horne having now returned to fitness would also be a sensible addition for fly-half cover, even it seems unlikely Vern would leap-frog him over Weir. And he’s going to need to find a 23 shirt from somewhere which could be Grigg or perhaps Rory Hughes or Blair Kinghorn. Lee Jones is probably the next in form wing though and should make a welcome return. Backline:
Maitland, Hoyland, Scott, Dunbar, Visser, ??, Price
Horne might be less disruptive in terms of style but I suspect it will be Weir at 10, who has been with the squad all tournament. The bench is once again the tricky spot with gaps to fill:
Dell, Berghan, McInally, Toolis, Harley, Pyrgos, ??, ??
Grigg and Jones please, possibly Kinghorn – but that would be a big leap.
Sir Dr Robson, work your magic.
UPDATE 14/03: Fraser Brown has been cleared to play by the disciplinary committee who judged the yellow card sufficient punishment:
The Disciplinary Committee, chaired by Jean-Philippe Lachaume (France),alongside Rhian Williams (Wales) and David Martin (Ireland), having reviewed footage of the incident and all other evidence, as well as hearing submissions and testimony from the player and his representatives, considered the tackle to have been dangerous, and therefore contrary to Law 10.4(e). The Disciplinary Committee, however, found that the act of foul play would have not have warranted a red card, and so the citing complaint was not upheld and no sanction was imposed. (The Disciplinary Committee also considered whether or not the player, in carrying out the tackle, had infringed Law 10.4(j), but found that not all of the necessary elements for foul play under that law had been present). The player is therefore able to resume playing immediately.