Scotland captain John Barclay will not be fit to take part in the start of the Six Nations campaign, his club coach Richard Cockerill confirmed.
The back-row forward has been battling back from a ruptured Achilles he sustained last May but won’t be in the frame when Scotland kick-off their tournament at home to Italy on February 2, although Cockerill said he did expect the 32-year-old to make his Edinburgh debut this season.
“As that [Six Nations] is not very far away he certainly won’t make the start of it by the looks of it,” reported Cockerill.
“There’s no date at this point. He’s had a serious injury and he’s an aging player, so there are no definitives on those. Achilles tendons can be notoriously a little bit tricky, and he’s an older player, and older players heal slower.
“He’s on target, but that could be six months or nine months, which is what we were told at the start.”
Barclay had set the Six Nations as his target for a return from the injury he picked up playing for Scarlets against Glasgow in last season’s Guinness Pro14 semi-final at Scotstoun. However, the initial six-month recovery period passed at the end of last year, with Cockerill pushing it back until “late January-early February”.
It now looks at least doubtful that Barclay will play any part for Scotland this season, with Clermont Auvergne scrum-half Greig Laidlaw set to continue in the captaincy role.
Meanwhile, there was better news regarding Scotland’s star full-back Stuart Hogg, with Glasgow coach Dave Rennie hopeful that he will be back to face Cardiff Blues in the Heineken Champions Cup next weekend after coming off injured at half-time in the 1872 Cup loss to Edinburgh seven days ago.
“Hoggy has had a bit of a tight groin but we think we will be alright for next week,” said the Kiwi.
Centre Alex Dunbar also limped off last weekend and Rennie said: “Not sure about Alex. He had a bad haematoma in his thigh which turned out to be massive the next day. He is still not running fully so he will be touch and go.”
Fellow international centre Peter Horne also misses today’s trip to face Benetton in Italy but, like Hogg, Rennie expects to have him available for the resumption of European action.
“It’s more like a bone bruise,” the coach said of Horne’s injury. “He got hammered and his leg caught in a difficult position – it could have been worse but there is no ligament damage. We were leaving him out this week anyway, so we are expecting him to be fit and available next week.”