SCOTLAND opened their autumn Test series with an ultimately confident 42-17 win over Japan, but now fear the loss of a handful of players to injury for their game with South Africa this weekend.
Interim head coach Scott Johnson planned to pick three different sides for the Test matches with Japan, the Springboks and Australia in a bid to test his depth of strength, but he may be forced into more changes than envisaged with Matt Scott, Ryan Grant, Alastair Kellock, Tim Swinson, Duncan Weir and Greig Laidlaw among the walking wounded yesterday.
Scott appears to be the most serious, the centre having suffered a knock to his hand in the final stages of Saturday’s Test, and there are fears a bone may be broken. Nothing was confirmed last night, but there is sufficient concern for the Edinburgh centre, arguably Scotland’s best performer this year, to be sent to Leeds for assessment by specialist hand surgeon Doug Campbell.
Scotland team doctor James Robson would only say: “Matt requires further assessment before we can ascertain the full extent of his injury.”
Grant and Kellock suffered concussion and will no doubt have to pass the six-day graduated return-to-play protocol tests to be given a chance of facing South Africa. At best, they will be pencilled into the squad named on Wednesday, but Johnson may decide to leave one or both out altogether.
There is healthy competition in the second row with Swinson, Richie Gray, Jim Hamilton, Grant Gilchrist and Jonny Gray all pushing for places, but the front row is not so well stocked and the manner in which Scotland’s scrum struggled against Japan after Grant was replaced will be a concern ahead of the challenge of a Boks pack.
Swinson is also nursing an injury to his shoulder, while replacement stand-off Weir finished the game with groin pain and Laidlaw suffered a leg knock.
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