Autumn Tests agony for Allan Dell as injury jinx strikes again

Edinburgh prop Allan Dell is out of the autumn Test series after suffering a groin injury ahead of Saturday's European Challenge Cup match in Russia.

Wednesday, 25th October 2017, 6:30 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 12:27 am
Allan Dell suffered a groin injury during Edinburghs European Challenge Cup win over Krasny Yar

Dell, who had recently recovered from a back issue, was named in the team but didn’t feature in the 73-14 win over Krasny Yar in Moscow.

Scotland coach Townsend learned yesterday morning that the loosehead, who enjoyed an injury call-up cameo for the British and Lions in the summer, would not be available next month.

There was better news for the Edinburgh quartet of scrum-half Nathan Fowles, prop Darryl Marfo, flanker Jamie Ritchie and centre Phil Burleigh, however, as they were one of ten uncapped players in the 36-man squad.

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Townsend, meanwhile, has assured Scotland supporters that there will be no repeat of the Steven Shingler fiasco after naming a former Wales Under-20 international.

Luke Hamilton, the Leicester back-row forward, is another of the uncapped players in the pool for Tests against Samoa (November 11), New Zealand (November 18) and Australia (November 25).

The Pembroke-born 25-year-old, whose father was born in Stirling, turned out for Wales Under-20s in the 2012 Junior World Cup, including in an historic 9-6 win over the Baby Blacks of New Zealand while he was with Cardiff Blues.

In the same year, Scotland coach Andy Robinson and the SRU were left with egg on their faces when they called up Scarlets utility back Shingler, whose mother was born in Dumfries, only for the then IRB, now World Rugby, to rule that he was only eligible to play for Wales after also representing their Under-20 side which, as was the case with Hamilton, was the Welsh union’s designated “second” team in terms of international eligibility.

The World Rugby Regulation 8 states that a player is not allowed to switch nationalities if he has represented a “National Representative Team, the next senior 15-a-side National Representative Team and the senior National Representative Sevens Team”.

The difference with the Shingler case was that his game was against France, who were the only other major nation to have the Under-20 team as their second designated “capture team” at the time. Hamilton never played against France.

“It is checked. It is all done and dusted,” said Townsend. “He did not play in a game that would have got him captured by Wales.”

The Scotland coach revealed the player, who can play across the back row but has been shining at openside for the Tigers this season, had been on his radar for some time and he had been interested in perhaps bringing him to Glasgow Warriors.

“We have known for a couple of years he is Scotland qualified,” continued Townsend. “First of all, from a Glasgow perspective, we were interested in signing him when he was playing for Agen, but he ended up at Leicester. We played against them [in the Champions Cup] with Glasgow last year.

“He is playing really well. He is more, in our mind, a six or eight but he has played the last two games at seven in Champions Cup and was one of the best players on the field.

“For him to commit to Scotland is great for us.”

Of the other nine uncapped players, five will be experiencing their first taste of being involved with the Scotland squad when they go into camp at the Oriam centre next week. Newcastle centre Chris Harris, Marfo, Sale winger Byron McGuigan and Fowles will all be pulling on the training kit for the first time. Glasgow hooker George Turner is also included, although he was an uncapped tourist in the summer.

Glasgow lock Scott Cummings, his prop clubmate Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow), Edinburgh centre Phil Burleigh and his flanker team-mate Jamie Ritchie are also named after all being invited to the extended get-together Townsend hosted at St Andrews in the late summer.

There was good news with the inclusion of key centre Alex Dunbar, who is expected to recover from his knee injury in time. Glasgow captain Ryan Wilson is also named in the squad after a bruising match against Leinster at the weekend when he suffered a head knock and other niggles.

Fit-again full-back Stuart Hogg and wing Tommy Seymour also return to the dark blue after a summer in the red of the Lions.

However, Duncan Taylor is out after limping off for Saracens and Glasgow back-rower Adam Ashe will also miss the series after being injured against Leinster. Toulouse lock Richie Gray will not recover from his August back operation in time.

Edinburgh wing Dougie Fife, who is back in the 15-a-side fold after a spell with the Sevens squad, also returns, but there is no place for former Capital favourite Tim Visser, with Townsend saying the Harlequins wing is short on form.