Vern Cotter relieved by Scotland injury escape

Injury problems have plagued Cotter's squad in recent months. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Injury problems have plagued Cotter's squad in recent months. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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SCOTLAND head coach Vern Cotter expressed relief that his squad has come through four bruising World Cup warm-up Tests relatively unscathed.

The Scots completed their preparation games on Saturday night with a dramatic 19-16 defeat by France in Paris. Loosehead prop Al Dickinson left the field early with a head knock and will now undergo concussion protocols, although Cotter said he “seemed OK” after the game. Stuart Hogg (ankle) and Peter Horne (knee) are the only other injury concerns in the 31-man squad that will travel to England a week on Wednesday, with both expected to be fine in around ten days.

Saturday’s match was played with brutal intensity and the Scots came close to a first win in the French capital for 16 years. Tommy Seymour scored a try midway through the second-half which had them 16-12 up, but the home side hit back in the last ten minutes with a try from Noa Nakaitaci.

Before the four-game warm-up series, the Kiwi had spoken of being kept awake at night by the prospect of injury to key figures. After Saturday’s game, he said: “That [not having injuries] is a thing we are relieved about.

“At the same time, we had a very positive approach to these games. It was good to have a look at some players. There are a number of good players in the game in Scotland and it is nice to get this one out of the way. The next one is the World Cup and four very tough matches.”

Reviewing the four games – a 28-22 loss to Ireland, then back-to-back wins over Italy [16-12 and 48-7] and the Paris loss – Cotter said: “Each game has been different. From a very open game against Ireland we were able to attack the outsides of the game… Then we ramped up the physical side of things against a very physical French team.”

Scotland’s next game is now the Pool B opener against Japan in Gloucester a fortnight on Wednesday.

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