Scotland have received a fitness boost ahead of their clash with Fiji as John Hardie has recovered from a back spasm.
The Edinburgh flanker suffered the injury before the victory over Italy earlier this month and, with Hamish Waston, his rival for the open-side slot, also carrying a niggle, Scotland had to shuffle their squad at the last moment to replace him.
“It was just a bit of a problem I had with my back in the warm-up,” Hardie said.
“It is one of those things, it has not happened in my career before. It was pretty disappointing, but nothing major. It lasted a week or so and I am over it now and ready to go - painful when it happens, but it is just a lock-up of muscles. It is fine now and I am looking forward to getting into a bit of footy.
“It is frustrating. You can do all the training and that stuff but when it comes to game day, which is the most important day, these things happen. It definitely makes me keener to play and if I get an opportunity this week it will be really good.”
With stand off Finn Russell and prop Allan Dell having left the tour to join the British and Irish Lions, and centre Alex Dunbar being given the week off, head coach Gregor Townsend is already committed to making changes to the side that won in Australia when he announces his team.
If Hardie returns to the line-up after a season riddled with injuries, one of his main jobs will leading the defence against the potent threat of Fiji’s strike runners, with Super Rugby players now being released to be available. “We can all see the threat Bill (Viliame Mata) offers at Edinburgh and you can remember the threat Glasgow had with Leone (Nakarawa),” Hardie said.
“I have played rugby (at Otago Highlanders) with Patrick Osborne who might be on the wing this weekend. He is a great player and you might have (Josua) Tuisova back as well. We know the threat they pose individually and as a team, so we are looking forward to the challenge.
“We have had two really good wins and that could all go down the drain it we don’t perform this weekend. Our goal was to win three games and we have a really good chance of that. We have to be ready for this game. We know the threats and we are looking forward to taking them on.
“They have world-class players mixed in there and their offloading is a big threat. They will look to play in front of their home crowd with a lot of energy, so we know what is coming and what we have to do to be on top of the game.”