Scotland’s preparations for the must-win RBS Six Nations Championship clash at home to Italy on Saturday week suffered a hammer blow today when line-out ace Richie Gray was ruled out for the remainder of the tournament.
The 25-year-old British and irish Lions second row was immediately replaced by Glasgow’s nine-times capped Tim Swinson.
Gray, capped 45 times, had been revealed to have damaged a tendon in his arm after scans at Edinburgh’s Spire Murrayfield Hospital.
He was taken from the field after 56 minutes of Sunday’s 26-23 defeat by Wales.
Whoever replaces Gray against the similarly winless Italians – Jim Hamilton came off the bench at the weekend – will have a hard act to follow as the Scottish line-out has been generally successful all season.
Gray will require further surgical consultation on his return to his French club Castres.
With Gray ruled out, Scotland head coach Vern Cotter has drafted Swinson into the squad for the remainder of the international campaign.
Scotland have already lost Jon Welsh for the duration of the Six Nations through injury and there are further doubts over his fellow prop, Gordon Reid, who has suffered knee ligament damage and will almost certainly miss the Italy match.
In line for a call-up could be Exeter Falcons’ Moray Low or Bristol’s Kyle Traynor.