Geoff Cross hailed for bravery after remaining on tour

Geoff Cross trains ahead of the clash with Canada
Geoff Cross trains ahead of the clash with Canada
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Scotland have had to send for replacements just one game into their rugby tour after picking up injuries during their opening victory over the United States.

Lock Jim Hamilton and centre Duncan Taylor are both heading home after picking up leg knocks, with Peter Horne and Tim Swinson called in as replacements.

The Glasgow Warriors duo were not expected to join the squad until after the Argentina leg of the tour, but will now be available to face Canada at the weekend.

Geoff Cross is not heading back, though. The London Irish prop is staying on despite a rib injury and the death of his father. His bravery has been duly commended by his coaches, with scrum coach Massimo Cuttitta saying: “Oh man, we’re really, really proud of him for what he has done.

“It is difficult. I understand his feelings since I am in a similar position with my own father being ill and I don’t know what I would have done. I really do understand, it is so courageous what he is doing, really courageous. It shows a big attachment to the country, jersey and team-mates. He is a great man.”

Former Edinburgh star Cross was part of a dominant Scotland unit in the set-piece against the USA, even though both the looseheads used during the game – Gordon Reid starting and Alex Allan coming off the bench – were winning their first caps.

However, after Cross and Reid, the starting players, went off, dominance eased, and Cuttitta is warning that better scrummaging opponents might have done more damage.

“That’s where we have to improve,” he said. “It can’t be just 40 minutes, 50 or 60, we need to do it for 80 minutes; that’s where we need to improve. It is a good start but there is a lot to work on, there is a big margin for improvement.

“Maybe I am too demanding, but that is how it works. We need to et better and better. If we scrummaged the way we did at the weekend, we might be in trouble with other teams. We ticked some boxes, but we need to tick some more.

“I was very happy with Gordon Reid on his debut, he has come on a long way. There is still a lot of work to be done, but I am happy with the way he is developing. He is working for his team, working for his tighthead, technically he has improved a lot. He has shown the others what he can do, which means competition; that is exactly what we want.

“All of sudden we have five looseheads – we’ve had bad times in the past when there was no-one.

“Let’s not forget we were the second-best attacking scrum in the Six Nations on the IRB stats. Yes, there were some issues, but the boys did well and a lot of people were surprised.”