SEAN Maitland has been ruled out of Saturday’s Calcutta Cup clash with England at Murrayfield with a leg injury, and the winger will be further assessed this week having also suffered a concussion during Scotland’s 28-6 defeat by Ireland in Dublin on Sunday.
The Scottish Rugby Union’s head of medical performance Paul McGinley, said: “Sean suffered a concussion as well as injury to his right leg (on Sunday). He will be subject to further investigation at Spire Murrayfield hospital and will be assessed later by consultant surgeon Graham Lawson.
“We also have a number of injuries at this juncture which will impact on availability to train at the start of this week, but we are optimistic that players will recover in time for the England game.”
Scotland supporters may have returned from Ireland disconsolate after yet another opening-day defeat, but the players are moving on with a defiant tone.
Second row Tim Swinson has impressed his coach at Glasgow, Gregor Townsend, and Scott Johnson, the national coach, with his steely edge and so it is no surprise that one of the form players of 2013 came out swinging when asked how daunting it might be trying to pick up the pieces of the Dublin display just five days before a Calcutta Cup match against an England side hurting from a late loss in France.
“It doesn’t get any bigger than England,” said the 26-year-old, who was born in London and raised in the south, “but I believe they are a team for the taking.
“France played well in parts, as we did against Ireland, but they didn’t put in a whole team performance and yet still beat England. England will be hurting from that and wanting to come up to Murrayfield to prove a point, but Scotland have also got to front up and really drive forward.
“We know we didn’t play well in parts and we’re disappointed with the result. It’s a professional sport and everyone has come off a loss before. We’ve had to take it hard, but that’s something as an athlete you get used to. Now you’ve got to really push on.
“There are a lot of guys in this squad who have played a lot of rugby for Scotland, and a lot of guys there who haven’t. As a squad we are really close, whether it’s guys who have been there for five or ten years or whether it’s guys who have been there for six months, and we’ve got a huge desire to win and to prove ourselves, not just as rugby players but as a team. Against Ireland, we came off worse in the game and now we’ve got to really go forward and take it to the English.
“There was quite a big gap between the sides but you’ve got to take some of the positives from it, and we can see there are some, but there is also a lot of stuff to work on. You never find it easy losing and that’s something everyone prides themselves on as professional athletes, so turning it round for next weekend is going to be huge.”
Scottish players rarely struggle to lift themselves for a Calcutta Cup match, and Swinson, who qualifies for Scotland through his Glaswegian grandmother, believes that the experience of coming off a poor display against Samoa last summer to run South Africa close and then bouncing back from a below-par effort against the Boks in November to run Australia close, points to an ability in this squad to recover quickly.
“We’ve got some high quality players,” he said. “We had three British and Irish Lions playing against Ireland, we have Sean
Lamont with 83 caps, Kelly Brown with 61 caps. There are a load of guys there who have played a lot of international rugby and proved it on the top stage, at the top level with their clubs and at international level. We’ve definitely got the
quality. When we are Scotland and we attack how we can, and we showed it at times [against Ireland], we’re a match for any team in the competition. We’ve just got to put that together for more than bit part sessions as we did against Ireland and put in an 80-minute performance.
“To say we didn’t have the spirit [on Sunday] is false.
Technically it didn’t work, that’s true, but we’re professional athletes and we’ve got hugely positive natures and we really want to take it to them [England] for ourselves and also ... it’s
England at Murrayfield. It’s one of the biggest games in the championship this year.”
After the lineout nightmare at Lansdowne Road, the coaches will be looking at whether a change is needed to the second row combination with Richie and Jonny Gray, and Grant
Gilchrist, pushing hard for the starting spots. If Swinson retains the No 4 jersey, he will face second rows Courtney Lawes and Joe Launchbury, two players who attracted rave reviews from the BBC commentators in Paris.
“English commentators on English players? They always get a lot of praise,” said the lock,
THE SCOTSMAN RUGBY SHOW IN ASSOCIATION WITH GINGER GROUSE