The Scotland rugby squad are just one game into their marathon four-match summer tour, but already the rate of attrition is worryingly high, with two players set to return home after suffering leg injuries in the Test match against the USA in Houston.
They will be team-mates at Saracens next season and Jim Hamilton will get to know Duncan Taylor pretty well on the long trip back home because both men are out of the tour almost before it has started.
Hamilton suffered an injury that was initially reported as a turned ankle but it looks as if the big lock may have suffered damage to his ligaments or tendons.
Hamilton was replaced by Grant Gilchrist in the 37th minute of the match while the versatile outside back Taylor, pulled up suddenly with the ball in hand late on in the match.
What looked like a hamstring tear turned out to be a problem with his calf muscle and Taylor limped out of the action inside the final quarter of the match to be replaced by Max Evans. Both men are now out of the tour with the Glasgow duo of Tim Swinson and Peter Horne being flown over as emergency cover. The pair arrived in Toronto yesterday and will be available for selection for Saturday’s match against Canada.
“This is obviously disappointing news for both these players who were keen to impress in the short time they had on this tour,” said Scotland head coach Vern Cotter. “Everyone in the squad wishes them well and a quick recovery. It’s now up to Peter Horne and Tim Swinson to continue the hard work put in by Duncan Taylor and Jim Hamilton and take advantage of this opportunity, as we prepare for another Test match.”
At least the Scots won’t need to whistle up any other props after it emerged that Geoff Cross will not be flying home after the death of his father. It turns out that his father had a long-term illness, his passing was not entirely unexpected and it is possible that the prop had already said his farewells.
“I hope he is available,” said Scotland’s scrum coach Massimo Cuttita. “We need Geoff, although Alex Allan has played on the tighthead for Edinburgh. In an emergency you just have to get on with it. There was no pressure from us (for Cross to stay). Absolutely no pressure from the management, the coaches or anybody. We were all surprised [that he stayed]. I think it is probably his attachment to the team. I think it is probably what his dad would have wanted from him, but that’s my opinion.
“It is a delicate thing. It is his dad, an important thing in his life. He is showing a lot of affection to the national team, sacrificing something. It is a big thing.
“Geoff is a professional, a real professional. I knew he would give 100 per cent and he did really well. A lot of credit to him for what he’s done in the circumstances.”