SCOTLAND lock Grant Gilchrist has been ruled out of the World Cup after an assessment of the groin injury he suffered in the match against the USA on Sunday.
Gilchrist had only just recovered from a broken arm, and several added complications that came with that, so it was a cruel blow to suffer another debilitating injury just a few short months after recovering from his previous one.
The medics will assess Russell later on and we’ll take it from thereDUNCAN HODGE
The news on stand-off Finn Russell was more positive, though, after Scotland’s hard-fought 39-16 win over the Eagles at Elland Road in Leeds.
Russell was hobbling around the team hotel yesterday with the aid of crutches and with his right ankle in a compression boot after rolling his ankle in the same match.
Assistant coach Duncan Hodge confirmed that the boot and crutches were precautionary rather a sign of anything terribly serious.
It seems likely that Russell will be able to continue in the tournament even if Saturday’s crunch Pool B match against South Africa in Newcastle comes around a little too soon.
“Hopefully,” said Hodge. “With all these soft tissue injuries it’s wait and see. I am sure things will become more clear in the next few days. Literally, I know as much as you just now. The medics will assess him later on and we’ll take it from there. It’s unfortunate for him and the team. Lets hope he’s fine.
“Obviously we don’t want to lose anyone and ten is a key role. Look at South Africa, they lost their captain, England lost one of their best players last week, Wales are losing players. It happens. When you play three games in ten days like we are going to do you’d be pretty lucky not to pick up some injuries.
“It’s part and parcel, and if he’s not fit for the weekend we’ve got to get over that and get through it and use the squad. Duncan [Weir] did well when he came on and he’s a great ten as well so there is no undue panic from us there.”
Scotland got through four warm-up matches and their opening Pool B win against Japan without any serious injury setbacks so the law of averages meant that run was unlikely to continue.
That’s no comfort to Gilchrist, who returned home yesterday after travelling with the team to Newcastle.
“He’s pretty gutted,” Hodge confirmed.
“Obviously, the World Cup is the pinnacle of anyone’s career but you look back on the year he’s had and he’s worked so hard as well to get fit. When we started off in June he was 12 months work behind everyone else, so for him to get where he got to and playing as well was an achievement in itself and to get shot down like that... well, we all feel for him.
“It’s a big blow for the squad but it’s one of those things and you just need to look around, England,Wales, everyone is picking up injuries, it’s just the nature of the game. It’s unfortunate.”
Hodge insisted that no decision had been made on a replacement but he also conceded that the management team would bang heads together and come up with a name pretty soon. They need to name the player 48 hours before the next match, against South Africa on Saturday.
Unfortunately, two of the leading candidates have been ruled out. Jim Hamilton retired from international rugby after missing the original cut, while Edinburgh’s big Aussie lock Ben Toolis was recently injured.
Vern Cotter looks almost certain to whistle up a breakaway to replace Gilchrist if only because he has very few other options available. Blair Cowan will get the nod if the coach wants another “fetcher” but Rob Harley remains the favourite thanks to his versatility. The Glasgow man covers four, six and seven and Scotland can
reasonably expect plenty of bumps and bruises after playing the Springboks.