The severity of WP Nel’s neck injury became clearer today with news that the Scotland tighthead prop has had surgery.
The South Africa-born forward had already been ruled out of the Six Nations, which begins on Saturday, but now faces a period of rehabilitation, with no indication as yet when he might be fit to return.
Before suffering neck injury problems this season, the 30-year-old had been tipped as a potential Lions Test starter but that hope now appears to be over. Nel’s club Edinburgh said in a statement: “Willem Nel has undergone surgery on a neck injury sustained in his side’s win over Harlequins at Twickenham Stoop on Saturday, January 14. A MRI scan on Wednesday, January 18 at Spire Murrayfield Hospital revealed that Nel damaged an intervertebral disc in his neck during a significant collision during the game. Following further assessment, surgery was deemed as an appropriate course of action.”
Nel first hurt his neck in the home game against Harlequins last October. He was told to rest for four weeks but that stretched to two months before his comeback in the return Challenge Cup clash with the London side lasted just 25 minutes. Scotland coach Vern Cotter named Nel in his Six Nations squad but it was soon confirmed he would play no part in the tournament.