Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland injury update

[Edinburgh, UK. November 11, 2017] Hamish Watson - Scotland vs Samoa at BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. (c) ALASTAIR ROSS | Novantae Photography Photo Credit: Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

Six weeks ago when Gregor Townsend first named his squad for the Six Nations there was a monster injury list to contend with. Here’s a quick update on how things have progressed since then.

Listed as injured on the initial squad announcement:

John Barclay
Possibly in contention for Edinburgh’s PRO14 match with Leinster on 23rd March.

Mark Bennett
Playing the second game of his comeback for Edinburgh this weekend against Benetton.

Magnus Bradbury
Back playing for Edinburgh and Scotland.

Fraser Brown
Back playing for Scotland (although still to feature for Glasgow!)

Lewis Carmichael
Lewis’ season is over due to a knee injury.

David Denton
Was reportedly ‘touch and go’ to be available for Leicester’s game with Saracens in early February but still hasn’t taken to the field following what is now a 5-month layoff.

Cornell Du Preez
Unlikely to play again this season after a second throat operation in January for his horrendous injury which saw him hospitalised for 6 weeks.

Zander Fagerson
Back playing for Glasgow and Scotland.

Matt Fagerson
Starts for Glasgow against Zebre after returning a week earlier than expected when he came off the bench versus Connacht.

Richie Gray
The big man has played in Toulouse’s last 3 matches in the Top 14 and should be on duty again this Sunday against Lyon.

Luke Hamilton
Still suffering with concussion.

Damien Hoyland
Returned against Cardiff Blues last week and will go again in Italy versus Benetton this Saturday.

Byron McGuigan
Sale’s game against Exeter on Saturday will be his 3rd start since returning in the middle of February.

Matt Scott
Richard Cockerill is “hopeful” the centre will be available for Edinburgh v Leinster in 3 weeks’ time.

Rory Sutherland
His first game back was on the bench against Cardiff Blues and it’s the same again for Benetton this weekend.

Duncan Taylor
His season is over with a knee injury and he’ll be out of action until at least June.

Blade Thomson
Scarlets latest update was that he would play “hopefully…before the end of the season.”

George Turner
Returned for Glasgow a couple of weeks back and was in Paris as emergency cover for Scotland.

Jon Welsh
Still not back for Newcastle.

Injured before Italy game:

Hamish Watson
Injured in Champions Cup game versus Montpellier. Returns for Edinburgh against Benetton this Saturday.

Matt Smith
Called into the Scotland squad as injury cover but damaged his shoulder playing for Glasgow against Ospreys and is out for the season.

Listed as injured for Italy game:

Jonny Gray
Back playing for Scotland.

George Horne
Made his comeback for Glasgow against Connacht last week but his shoulder has put him back on the injured list this week.

Peter Horne
Back playing for Scotland

Lee Jones
Retained in Scotland squad with the expectation being he would only miss the opening rounds of the Six Nations but he’s yet to make his comeback for Glasgow.

Sean Maitland
Back playing for Saracens and Scotland.

Grant Stewart
Released from the Scotland squad but was tearing it up for Glasgow against Connacht last week and backs up George Turner this week.

Injured against Italy:

Willem Nel
Returns to action for Edinburgh against Benetton this weekend.

Sam Skinner
In line for a recall to the national squad ahead of the Wales game depending on how he goes in training with Exeter this week (as reported by theoffsideline).

Listed as injured for Ireland game:

John Hardie
He’s subsequently played a couple of games for Newcastle. Not in their side this weekend – but also not included among their extensive injury list.

Injured against Ireland:

Stuart Hogg
Retained in the squad with some hope he might play against Wales or England – although that does seem to be diminishing slightly as the weeks progress.

Huw Jones
“Unlikely” to play until after the Six Nations.

Ryan Wilson
The man himself is hopeful of playing before the end of the season for Glasgow – although having heard the gruesome description of his knee dislocation it’s hard to see how!

Listed as injured for France game:

Finn Russell
Back playing for Racing 92 against La Rochelle this weekend. Cross everything you’ve got people…


Stafford McDowall
He was added to the squad in January. Released back to Glasgow as injured ahead of the France game but managed to play versus Connacht and is in the Warriors’ starting XV again for this weekend’s clash with Zebre.

UPDATE – Alex Dunbar, who was briefly in the squad ahead of the Italy game and who was a key player in the November Tests, is now on the injured list for Newcastle following his move there on loan from Glasgow.

SQUAD UPDATE (4/3/19):

Hamish Watson, Willem Nel, Sam Skinner, Stafford McDowall, Grant Stewart, Matt Fagerson, Byron McGuigan and Gordon Reid have all been called up to the Scotland squad.

The following have been released back to their clubs: George Horne (shoulder), D’arcy Rae (ankle), George Turner (concussion) and Chris Dean (back) as well as Alex Allan, Rob Harley, John Hardie and Duncan Weir.

57 Responses

  1. From this report, does this mean Toonie does not want to play Hardie? Was he available last week against France? Also, Blade’s concussion must be really bad if he may not play again this season

    1. Tried to go on Twitter to find out but couldn’t find anything so I assume that’s good news. Think he scored a try as well.

      Laidlaw playing is he ok?

      Was George Horne not playing today No?

      1. I read that Laidlaw was rested by Clermont. George Horne listed as injured again (shoulder). Thought Frisby played well though.

      2. Was watching R92 then popped away for 10mins and Finn was no longer on the pitch around the 70th min.

        Assume he was subbed for tactical reasons.

        He appeared unharmed.

        Not sure Gray was starting for Toulouse this weekend – which is worrying in.

    2. Finn played reasonably well, was his usual chilled self and scored a good try, goal kicking the only drawback to his performance. Richie was on the bench for Toulouse, not sure how he got on as I didn’t watch that match

  2. Disaster for Edinburgh with play off hopes and CC next year virtually gone.

    That home QF now looks important to salvage progress from a very mixed season.

    1. Still a big chance against Munster in the Euro QF. Looking forward to it with all the internationalists back. Just not strong enough or consistent enough without them in the league.

      1. Yes, just coming up short these last two games minus the international players. In all the excitement of being in Paris, I didn’t realise Edinburgh had played and lost to Cardiff until the middle of last week!
        Looking forward to coming up for the Munster game. I wonder if, with so many Munster fans present, the crowd will beat the 38k club record set in 2012 v Toulouse?

  3. How come my comments were deleted again? Its a bug ? or is one editor replying & another keeps deleting ?

    1. Not sure Neil but sometimes I notice that if I wanted to I could edit someone else’s recent comment which seems a bit crazy

  4. Skinner back to full training apparently. Too early for Wales but might be in the mix for the cabbage patch. Adds a lot of dynamism at 6 or 2nd row.
    Richie Gray going well at Toulouse but not sure he is GT’s plans. I would have the two Grays together at 4&5 but I don’t think he sees RG’s virtues.

    1. I think Richie has been out injured for pretty much every squad since Toonie took over, so I don’t think we’ve had a chance to see whether he rates him or not yet!

      1. Yeah, I think he picked him vs Italy in last years 6N, just about the only time he was able to pick him… read that RG has not been considered just because he needs more games.

  5. Front Row – Allan* Mcinally~. Nel^
    Second row – Gilchrist~. R.Gray^
    Backrow – Ritchie* Watson^ Strauss~
    Halfbacks – Price* Russell^
    Centres – Johnson~ Johnstone^
    Wings – Graham* Kinghorn*
    FB – Maitland*
    Bench- Brown~Dell * Fagerson* Skinner ^ Bradbury* Laidlaw* Hastings~ Seymour*

    ^ In since France – 6
    ~ Same from France – 6
    * Positional change/Bench – 11

    Out from France.


  6. Watson, Nel and Skinner return.

    I didn’t see Skinner on the Exeter squad list last Sat – did he play?

      1. Bit of a stretch him being in the squad for Saturday then.

        I didn’t see the Embra match – did Watson and Nel look up to speed?

    1. I watched the Edinburgh game and Watson and Nel looked OK – but only OK. They were both substituted quite early though – WP at half time and Hamish 10 minutes into the second half.
      Of course, their “OK” is better than most!

  7. A lot of people picking R. Gray as starting second row. He’s be my pick as well, but as far as I’m aware he hasn’t been in any squads, and isn’t in Gregor’s list of additions. Without having been in camp to work on lineout calls, etc. I’d say there’s no chance of him playing against Wales, and probably the same can be said for England.

  8. Skinner coming back is a big plus. Most players would need a game for their clubs but he’s the kind of player who could come straight back in.
    I’d like to see Richie Gray get a chance.
    He’ll be 30 this year, he’s got the raw material, wind him up and tell him to go for it. Not sure if Toonie will do that, though.
    I wonder if we’ll see a bolter?
    I’m thinking Stafford MacDowall, maybe on the bench if not starting. Haven’t given much thought as to what selection permutations would be required to make that happen, but he’s big, quick, has tremendous work rate and has great basic skills. He’s the kind of player Toonie would have been itching to bring through if he was still coaching Glasgow.
    With all the injuries, there’s a perfect excuse to pick him.
    I wonder if we’ll see him on Saturday?

    1. I suspect we will still see the ‘old boys’ network on Saturday. Toonie has his favourites and will not budge from them.

      1. Really?

        I would have said Townsend has been more willing to shake things up than his predecessors.

        Which “old boys” are you referring to?


        There are good reasons to pick those players, especially in the current injury crisis.

    2. Was thinking similar.
      Skinner could well be coming straight in. GT really sees him as a starter…if not this match the next one…may be on bench. J Gray must be on a shoogly peg. R Gray unlikely …needs games…Though id like to see R Gray and Skinner start a match.

      Not sure if this is a game to try MacDowall out. We are struggling in centre though …as good a chance as what else is available. Its probably P Horne at 12 and one out of the rest.

      Out of who is available …and considering we won’t be winning the 6N….Id like to see something like..



      1. I admit it would be a big risk to play McDowell at 13, if tooney did go that way I think the rest of the team would be pretty surprise free for example Seymour starting instead of Graham. Can’t see Johnson playing 13 as he just doesn’t have the pace to defend out there, same for Horne.

        McDowell reminds me a lot of Rougerie, they are the same hight and weight.

      2. RuggersB – you’d drop Jonny Gray out of the 23?? You’re mad. He’s our most experienced lock and, although he may be resting on his laurels somewhat, will be up for this one.
        I think both Watson and Nel will come straight in to the starting XV. Think Ritchie at 6 and Strauss at 8. Skinner and Bradbury on the bench. Matt Fagerson and Gary Graham are good players, but neither has really out-performed their contemporaries in a Scotland jersey.
        Think Russell-Horne-Harris may be the 10-12-13 with the back 3 unchanged.
        Will Toonie drop his captain to the bench?

      3. Merlot – Experience is only good if your in form enough to put that experience to good use.
        The All Blacks wont tolerate experienced players who are out of form, they will give the youngsters the shot if they are standing out ahead of the experience.

        I like the saying .. Your only as good as your last performance.

      4. Merlot….
        I don’t think I’m mad drop J Gray out the 23. Whether a fan of him or not….he is not playing well. You argue that G Graham and M Fagerson have not out performed their contemporaries….yet dropping a clearly out of form J Gray is mad???
        Graham or Fagerson have barely had a chance yet…both look in good form to me….why not try them? We have looked completely powderpuff in the back row. You’re right though ….lets just play the same old… against ’10 in a row’ Gatland…that’ll have him worried!?
        Many ‘experienced’ players have blown it when we needed them to show exactly why they were selected. With RWC building now the priority …surely try something different.

  9. Right…..we need to have a right go @ Wales, we need to get ahead. Harris has shown little/nothing @ was poor (seemingly) at the weekend, Grigg not good enough, preposterous to play 2 12s
    Kinghorn Maitland Seymour
    McGuigan Johnson
    Russell Price
    Strauss Graham Ritchie
    Skinner Gilchrist
    Fagerson Brown (c) Reid

    Graham, Hastings, Laidlaw, Watson, J.Gray, Nel, McInally, Dell

    1. Preposterous to play two 12s, but okay to play a winger at 13? I have found Mcguigan’s defence to be suspect at test level and I wouldn’t think it wise to stick him in the midfield…

      1. No a bad retort Matto, however given H.Jones, Dunbar & Taylor absences and the requirement to be ahead (which means scoring tries) before/at half time I reckon McGuigan (who’s played at centre previously) is best choice

      2. Johnson has played at 13 with Horne at 12 in the past and its gone quite well so don’t see the problem starting him there for Scotland. He has more pace than Dunbar and he seemed easily selected there..

      3. I’d disagree. If we put someone out of position in at 13, I’d play Johnson there with Horne at 12. I’d be comfortable with that, but would be seriously worried about Mcguigan in the midfield.

  10. John Hardie released back to Newcastle …. said way back prior to 6N that Toonie would not select Hardie! He was there as a last resort needed. His Scotland career is finished due to his alleged drug issue at Edinburgh

    1. I think perhaps its his background…but also his style of play isn’t really in line with how GT wants to play the game. He is a tackler……not a whole lot else.

    2. Hardie is a good player but he’s been on return to play so he’s short of game time and he’s not so outstandingly better than the other players we have that he justifies coming straight back in.
      As well as the drug issue he was also a senior player in the Fiji debacle, and Townsend has made it difficult for some of those players to come back. Not impossible (Strauss), but difficult.
      I understand why he would do that. You’ve got to want the jersey.

      And who would you drop for him?
      You’d have to drop either Ritchie or Watson, i.e. a player who has come in and done outstandingly well in his first season at this level and another who is an established top class performer.

      1. If you say he is just a tackle machine and nothing else, then JG should be dropped and not selected. Also, I would have played him against Ireland as that is the type you need against them – great at break down with more experience

  11. Glad to seem “first picks” such as Nel and Watson coming back into the squad and I would add Skinner into that category as well now. My main concern is who plays 12 and 13? Johnson has done ok at 12 and not done too much wrong so do you keep him there or swap him out for Horne? Or go tombola max and give McDowell a debut! I suspect it will be Horne again.
    Which leaves the 13 jersey up for grabs so will it be Griggs or Harris or is there anyone else? James Johnstone is the form 13 but I’m not sure if he is still part of the squad?
    I think Sat is a must win game for us otherwise our championship is on a downward spiral down the pan – we played 60 minutes against Italy then shot ourselves in both feet against Ireland followed up by a trip to Paris where we didn’t even get of the bus. Never mind I’m ever hopeful it will click this weekend!

    1. I am optimistic but not sure that is based on anything other than blind optimism. Looked back at the Wales match in 2017 and it was such an impressive display to stay in the match then to turn it in our favour and win comfortably in the end. Wales did make some key mistakes in where to kick and missing a key kick but we hung on in there and nilled them second half and scored two quality, multi phase patient tries. No idea where that kind of stuff has went recently.

      One thing that is better is our scrum in general we do not have the same anxiety before a match as we did back then so we aren’t as scared (and we were scared of this) of not having any platform at all so couldn’t get our attack going.

      Our line-out is hit or miss as can be our restarts this championship however we know that we can get this right.

      With key players back and Russell running the show then we’re in there and would love to finally beat Gatland at last.

      1. Scotland will decide the outcome of this match. Which in a way is a good thing.

        Wales are both unimpressive and mighty at the same time.

        They will score 20-25 points, as they have every game, including against Italy. Mainly in the second half.

        They will not give many cheap points away, but they seem to lack either the capacity or intent to really pile on the points.

        Good Scotland will score 2 or 3 first half tries, with good discipline to pressurise their ability to recover, forcing them to score 4 tries to win.

        This is something they haven’t done against Tier 1 opposition since Italy in 6N 2018.

        It’s something they haven’t done away from the Millenium Stadium since 2011 (world cup vs Fiji). In a genuine away game, this hasn’t happened since 2009 – at Murrayfield admittedly.

        Bad Scotland will give away 2 or 3 soft tries, and/or a clutch of penalties, from which there will be no recovery for us as they will just tighten the screws and kick the points.

        I have no doubt whatsoever that we can win this game. If good Scotland show up Wales do not have the answer.

        If bad Scotland show up however…its probably all over by halftime.

    2. I really cant see him dropping Johnson – he’s done nothing wrong.

      Some other posters wrongly think the centre positions are interchangeable, Johnson is not a 13.

  12. What do you think has been the impact of Danny Wilson taking over from Dan McFarland? Does anyone know if his methodology is very different from McFarland’s?

    Changing the forwards coach before the 6N surely has a major impact on a squad, especially when there are also so many injuries. Line-outs have been poor, scrum reasonable. Still somewhat under-powered in the forwards, but injuries have made that really tough for us. My gut instinct is that it’s too soon to make any kind of fair judgement on Wilson’s impact, but others may know more?

    1. I new coach doesn’t stop the lineout functioning – these are professional players, they know how to run a lineout. In fact I doubt a forwards coach has much of a say in a lineout – strategy maybe, but the actual functioning of it – very little IMO.

      1. What would you say has been the main issue with the lineout Stu ? jumpers, Hookers, abit of both ? are the lineout calls abit to simplistic & easy to read for the opposition ?

    2. Danny Wilson has a hell of a coaching record so I think he’ll come good eventually but it can take a season for players to get into the swing of new coaching ideas.

  13. Anyone else notice Duncan Taylor back in the Scotland training camp per SRU twitter vid?. Not training but there all the same. Good to see. We sorely miss him. Easily the best centre imo.

    Skinner looked integral part of training ….definately playing imo.

  14. Maitland and Harris ruled out.
    So…… do you think we’ll see a bolter (or 2) from the Tombola?!
    Graham has to be favourite now to get a start on the wing. That’s an enforced bolter which might have happened anyway….
    Harris would have been the replacement for Grigg if he’d been dropped (which would have been harsh considering his defensive performance), so there’s a space to cover centre.
    A lot of (understandable) talk about him being young, but…. when are you going to do it? The door will close once Jones, Bennett and Taylor come back.
    I wonder if Toonie will be tempted to have a look at him? Even if he’s on the bench?

    I think he’s got everything – pace, an offload, power, defence, a step….
    People said he was young for Glasgow but look at how he’s performed for them.

    Question is whether it’s too soon…..

    In any other circumstances the answer would be no, but with the injury list as it is and with no real expectation about the fixture I bet Townsend is thinking about it……

    We’ve no real outside centre other than Grigg and limited cover for the outside backs. Wouldn’t surprise me to see him on the bench……

    1. I don’t feel that Darcy Graham is going to start …maybe in 23
      I think McGuigan will start either at FB or wing…with maybe Kinghorn at wing to deal with high balls.
      McDowell I agree is getting better and better with game time. Too early for a start though… Grigg will start I think… maybe his last chance to show GT he can cut it at test level.
      McDowell could be a bench spot though.
      I wouldn’t say Bennett will be a certain future starter….Id say Taylor is if he gets his fitness back in full.

      1. Bobbins – why on earth would you start a fullback on the wing and play a wing at fullback…..?

        I would hope Graham will start over McGuigan – particularly as McGuigan has just come back into the squad so will not have been training with the team much by Saturday – although it wouldn’t surprise me if Townsend did start him. Graham has done more than enough to earn it.

        Who knows what he will do at 13 this time – personally I would like to see McDowell starting, but might be a bit much to ask to have 2 inexperienced guys in the centre so it would be outside Horne.

        Don’t see the value in playing Grigg again – he is a decent player, but not really a long term prospect and struggled in the France game.

        Backs I would go with –

        9 Price (shame Horne isn’t fit and I think it’s time to give Laidlaw some time on the bench)
        10 Russell
        11 McGuigan
        12 Horne
        13 McDowell
        14 Graham
        15 Kinghorn

        Having said that, I suspect much more likely it will be

        9 Laidlaw
        10 Russell
        11 Seymour
        12 Johnstone
        13 Grigg
        14 Graham
        15 Kinghorn

      2. Yeah, Toonie has gone a little conservative both on selections and gameplan from his initial “Tombola” splurge.

        I’d like him to revert back to the Tombola.. just a little bit….. being conservative and low risk doesn’t suit him.

        Nobody expects us to win this one on Saturday, and the thing about Tombola’s is that every once in a while a little surprise like a 40 point trouncing of the wallabies pops out, so what’s to lose?

        His gameplan relies on energy and vigour and some of the older hands have been looking a little flat, so why not give a bit of youthful enthusiasm a chance?

        I definitely think Graham has earned his place.
        If we had even a half complement of regular centres then the logic of giving McDowall more time for Glasgow would be overwhelming, but in the circumstances he must be close to the bench….
        When else is he going to get a shot between now and October?

      3. While it would not surprise me if Toonie picks McGuigan, McGuigan is barely more experienced at this level than Graham and Graham has done his time on the bench and been one of the form wingers in both the pro-14 and the Champions cup.
        McGuigan will also be short of match fitness while Graham has actually been playing games.

        So I would be disappointed if he didn’t pick Graham.

        I think he will pick Graham.

  15. Injuries are part and parcel of the game but trying to be creative about how we manage our resources I have an idea about how to protect players and hopefully allow more player numbers in our restricted domestic set up. Central contracts with players who play outside Scotland.
    In Hoggs case it’s said we cannot afford 500k per annum salary but he maybe could be offered a central deal where the SRU pay 75k but requires him to have 3 chosen games a season off.
    Clubs may protest that they won’t offer them contracts but they can get them cheaper, maybe making them more attractive. More could leave as they will be cheaper than an ex all black. This could free up more spaces and maybe some cash in the pro teams for the best young talent to be nurtured or contracts being available to attract players into the Scottish set up.
    ( Redpath, Dingwall and say Finlay Christie) Gregor could have some control over who plays when and is free for selection. Maybe stop the Russel playing 6 days before the 6N game against France. It’s not going to be easy to solve this ongoing problem but as a smaller union, we must be creative in expanding our player base, maximising opportunity for young talent and managing our players workload.

    1. It’s an interesting idea and I’m sure some clubs would be interested in talking about a revenue stream.

      Problems I can see:
      1) If the player gets crocced you’ve wasted your money.

      2) Is it value for us? You’re effectively doubling/ trebling the player’s match fee and you don’t need to have many players abroad before you’re spending significant sums on this – like the same amount the SRU will spend on the Super 6.

      We’ve been shredded by injury this season, no doubt, but this has been just as big a problem for our centrally contracted pro-14 players as it has been for those in England or France.

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