Rugby World Cup: Scotland flanker Jamie Ritchie steeling himself for Samoa involvement
Scotland will need some steel when they face up to Samoa in their win-or-bust second pool game in Kobe on Monday and flanker Jamie Ritchie has always been a player who brings some of that, and now even more so.
The Edinburgh forward was a doubt for the World Cup when he sustained a bad facial injury in the final warm-up match against Georgia at BT Murrayfield earlier this month but was eventually able to travel, although he sat out the opening 27-3 thrashing by Ireland in Yokohama.
He faced the media in Japan for the first time today, declaring himself ready to go despite a face that was still a bit swollen following his injury.
Asked if he had a metal plate put in to his left cheek he replied with a smile. “Yes I think so. I was asleep for it.
“But yeah, some kind of metal plate - but it didn’t go off at airport security, so it was all good.”
Ritchie said he was delighted to just be in Kobe, firmly in the mix for selection against Samoa following the tournament-ending injury to his Edinburgh team-mate and openside Hamish Watson.
“When I came off against Georgia, I was pretty worried. I didn't know if I was going to make it or not but then some pretty positive news came from my scan.
“I was a bit delayed coming to Japan but was able to come out, unfortunate miss the first game but I am here now and ready to go, looking forward to it.
“As you would be, at the time I was worried you might be out for a few weeks and not be able to go, they would have to take somebody else and that would be my chance at this World Cup gone. That was what was going through my head.”
The World Cup has now gone for both Watson (knee) and scrum-half Ali Price (foot/ankle) and Ritchie said: “I feel for them both, I can imagine what they are feeling having felt a bit of it before. For them it is real and for me it was before the World Cup, not during it. I really do feel for them both but I am relishing the opportunity to play.
“Hamish would be a loss to any team. I will miss him personally away from the field as well but we will all miss him on the field, what he brings to our game is something I don't think anybody else brings with his ball-carrying and ability to get over the ball. We will miss him but look to replace him.”
His other Edinburgh team-mate, Magnus Bradbury, who had been in Japan as cover for Ritchie himself has been added to the squad now as Watson’s replacement.
Follow Duncan Smith in Japan on Twitter @Duncan_Smith