SCOTLAND will go into this Saturday’s final Pool B clash against Samoa in search of a Rugby World Cup quarter-final place with only a few minor injury concerns.
After a bruising physical battle in the weekend’s 34-16 loss to South Africa at St James’ Park, hooker Ross Ford and centre Matt Scott have gone into concussion protocols after sustaining head-knocks. Full-back Stuart Hogg, who left the match in some discomfort just after the hour mark on Saturday, was described as having suffered cramp and lower back niggles and is not considered an immediate concern.
A Scotland team spokesperson said: “Hooker Ross Ford failed an in-game HIA [head injury assessment] meaning he will now follow the graduated return-to-play protocol, as will centre Matt Scott, who reported delayed onset concussion symptoms post match.
“Further knocks include a dead leg for lock Jonny Gray and a mild knee strain for centre Richie Vernon. A number of other players will require the ongoing care of the medical team.”
Scotland go into this Saturday’s match knowing that a victory over opponents whose World Cup was ended by their crushing loss to Japan will secure them a place in the following weekend’s quarter-finals.
First-choice stand-off Finn Russell missed the South Africa game with an inversion injury to his ankle but hopes that he will be fit to face Samoa were raised by the news that he is making “good progress” in his recovery and has spent time out of his ankle support boot.
Back-row John Hardie continues in the graduated return-to-play protocol, having sustained a head knock in Scotland’s opening win over Japan. Hardie said: “I have just got a couple of things I have to tick off but I am looking to play next Saturday. It is a big game for the boys.”
The New Zealand-born openside has made an instant impression with some stand-out performances in the warm-up games and then a virtuoso, tryscoring show in that Japan game. “I have been itching to play,” he added. “I haven’t had a lot of the symptoms of concussion but you can’t be too careful with your head because you only get one of them.”
Hardie watched from the stands as Scotland were overpowered by the Springboks but is confident that they can return to the same venue on Saturday and leave with smiles on their faces. “It definitely is a good chance for us to qualify,” said the former Otago Highlander.