INJURED Scotland backs Tim Visser and Duncan Taylor have been ruled out of the international three-day training camp.
The get-together got under way at Glasgow’s Scotstoun Stadium yesterday morning as head coach Scott Johnson prepares his side for November’s viagogo Autumn Tests against Japan, South Africa and Australia at Murrayfield.
Edinburgh wing Visser sustained a leg injury in his club’s RaboDirect PRO12 victory over Treviso on Friday. He was due to undergo an MRI scan at SPIRE Murrayfield Hospital last night and is in the care of the Edinburgh Rugby medical team and consultant John McKinley.
Meanwhile, Saracens centre Taylor suffered abdomen and shoulder damage in his club’s match against Northampton at the weekend and is being treated by the Allianz Park medics.
Back-row forward Blair Cowan and hooker Scott Lawson also sat out yesterday’s contact training as they played for London Irish and Newcastle respectively 24 hours earlier at Kingston Park. A number of other players will also take a limited part in training as a consequence of “bumps and bruises”, the SRU has confirmed.
Meanwhile, Scotland’s first opponents Japan, already hampered by the absence of coach Eddie Jones, have had preparations for their first clash on home soil against world champions New Zealand hit further by injury.
Centre Harumichi Tatekawa missed training yesterday as he was in hospital getting treatment for a knee injury, while fly-half Kosie Ono was absent because of family reasons.
With head coach Jones missing Saturday’s match after being hospitalised by a mild stroke earlier this month, strength and conditioning coach John Pryor said the injury concern was a headache the “Brave Blossoms” could do without.
“We are hopeful he can play Saturday,” he said. “It’s not as if we need a couple more challenges thrown at us.”
Assistant Scott Wisemantel is standing in as interim coach for Japan and said the loss of Jones for the match has had an effect on the squad. “There is obviously some trepidation as Eddie is not here,” the Australian said after yesterday’s training session. “But it is time for us to evolve both as a training staff and a playing roster. Eddie is still very much the boss but he is just not with us.”
The match at Tokyo’s 25,000-seat Prince Chichibunomiya Stadium will be just the third between the teams and the first since the All Blacks recorded an 83-7 win over Japan en route to winning the 2011 World Cup on home soil. The first encounter was a horror 145-17 defeat for the Asians at the 1995 World Cup.
New Zealand enter the clash on a ten-match winning streak having retained the Rugby Championship title earlier this month and have only ever lost to six sides – Australia, England, France, South Africa, Wales and the British & Irish Lions – in 110 years of playing Tests.
Japan, though, have been buoyed by their first win over a depleted Wales side in June and Wisemantel said the meeting with the All Blacks was a chance to show that the 2019 World Cup hosts were improving.
“They are the best team in the world and are going to put us under pressure. But we have to take the game to them. We can’t sit back and watch,” he said.