SCOTLAND coach Andy Robinson was philosophical yesterday when asked how much of a loss Glasgow flanker Rob Harley would be to his squad in the forthcoming autumn Test series.
The 22-year-old is one of three Glasgow Warriors forwards who have been ruled out of action for the next few months due to injury. Prop Ed Kalman suffered a back injury in pre-season and has undergone surgery which will keep him out for at least three months. Promising hooker Par MacArthur broke a foot in the Scarlets match and, once he is operated on, is expected to be sidelined for at least three to four months.
Harley was expecting to line up for Glasgow in Friday’s opening Scotstoun match against the Scarlets but suffered a knee injury in the final team run the day before. Scans have revealed a lateral collateral ligament tear and the forward, who marked his Scotland debut in Samoa with a try, in the national side’s last Test, is expected to require an eight-week rehab programme.
Robinson said: “In this contact sport you’re going to pick up injuries, and it’s the same for every coach in sport, and you have to be able to handle that. For Rob, it’s a disappointment for him to pick up an injury, particularly in a team run, but he will recover from that and have a part to play later in the season.
“It has to be seen as an opportunity for other players. If we think about the summer tour, Kelly Brown was not fit to go on tour and Alasdair Strokosch took his opportunity and did very, very well, and that puts pressure now on Kelly to perform. That’s exactly what you want because we now have competition for places and my selection is always based around previous form of players and the form at the moment. So that will raise the performance levels of players around them.”
Joe Ansbro is another tour success who will not be available this autumn after he suffered a spinal injury playing for London Irish in pre-season. Currently with his family in Dumfries, he will make a full recovery and Robinson confirmed that there are no expected impediments to his making a return to the game.
It is a sign of the growing depth in strength within the Scotland squad that Robinson is less fearful of losing one or two players. The back row, in particular, is an area of strength with David Denton and Brown now back from injury, having missed the tour, and Stuart McInally, Chris Fusaro and Ryan Wilson among the next tranche pushing hard for a call-up.
What the injuries highlighted to Robinson, however, was that now is too early to be selecting the side to face New Zealand in the opening November international, even in his own mind.
“Kelly has had a couple of games but, for me, when you’ve had a serious knee injury it’s not about judging him now,” he said.
“I need to give him a month to six weeks before I start really looking at Kelly and his form. He will find his form step-by-step, but I’ve watched his first two games and he’s playing well, so I’m pleased with where he is. But it’s the same with all players. I don’t expect them to be peaking at this stage of the season. They have to take their time and we want them peaking in the autumn internationals.
“I am also mindful that you can’t do selection too early because of the injuries that you do pick up.”
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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