Rugby World Cup: Still hope that Jamie Ritchie could recover in time for Scotland v Ireland clash
Scotland management are hopeful that back-rower Jamie Ritchie will be fit to be available for selection in Sunday’s Rugby World Cup opener against Ireland in Yokohama, but admit there remains question marks.
The Edinburgh forward’s facial injury was the worst of the casualty list from the final warm-up Test against Georgia and was delayed in flying out to Japan, with clubmate Magnus Bradbury warming his seat on the plane.
Assistant coach Danny Wilson reported no fresh injury concerns from the recent Nagasaki holding camp at today’s press conference at the squad’s new Tokyo base and added: “Jamie Ritchie will train with us today, so he is making progress. He is a big question mark for this weekend obviously, but hopefully he will get through training and will be available for the next game.
“The rest is pretty straightforward and the boys have trained very well.”
The forwards boss confirmed that, if Ritchie was to make it into the matchday squad in a few days, there would be no Phantom of the Opera in the land of Madame Butterfly in terms of him having to wear a protective mask following the crack to face he took at BT Murrayfield a couple of weeks ago.
“No, I don't think so. We’ve probably all seen examples in the past - Brad Barritt with Saracens. Obviously our medical staff will tick all the boxes if he will need to tick before he is available for selection, but I don’t think he will have to play in any mask.”
Wilson said Bradbury will remain in Japan until early next week on standby for any injuries that may crop up in Yokohama in what is likely to be a fierce physical contest with the Irish.
“There are obviously rules and regulations that we will be sticking to [regarding standby players and club release] and then a decision will be made off the back of this game,” said WIlson. “We are obviously very thankful to Edinburgh. He will return to Edinburgh at the relevant time depending on how the game goes.”
Being the first occasion the bulk of the travelling media had got a chance to speak to the squad since they arrived in Japan, the focus was on Scotland but there was no skirting around the issue that Sunday’s Pool A opener is against the team ranked best in the world as things stand.
Wilson batted off any talk of injury concerns in the Ireland camp, with star centre Robbie Henshaw and fellow Lions Rob Kearney and Keith Earls.
“As a coaching and playing group I don’t think we get too concerned about the speculation,” said Wilson. “Once you get confirmation of the team you are facing you then look in more detail. You second guess things and over-think it if you don’t.
“We are concentrating very much on ourselves, our gameplan and our standards in training.”
It was light rain but still a humid 24 degrees in Tokyo today with perhaps heavier rain predicted for Sunday’s match but certainly doesn’t appear to be anything that 46 Scots and Irishmen should be unused to.
“It is something we are aware of and something we will account for. At the same time, it might be more like Six Nations weather,” said Wilson.“It is on our minds and we will plan accordingly but the weather is changing day by day. We will have a clearer idea closer to game day.”
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