Prop Grant Shiells is one injury away from Scotland debut
YOUNG Borders prop Grant Shiells has moved nearer to a surprise Scotland debut in the forthcoming autumn Tests after being called into a squad full of wounded personnel.
The 23-year-old left hometown club Kelso for Newcastle four years ago after representing Scotland at under-19 and under-20 level. He has played 46 times for the Falcons, becoming a regular starter in the side last season but has stuggled for starts in the Championship battle so far this term.
Props Jon Welsh, Moray Low and Alasdair Dickinson are all out of Scotland’s autumn Test plans due to injury and Warriors loosehead Ryan Grant suffered concussion in Glasgow’s win at Treviso on Saturday night. He joins Allan Jacobsen (hamstring) and Geoff Cross (concussion) on the injury list within the Scotland squad.
With Shiells’ former Newcastle team-mate, Euan Murray, not available to face the All Blacks for religious reasons as the game is on a Sunday, the sole prop currently fit and available for selection is former Edinburgh front row Kyle Traynor, who is now playing in the Championship with Bristol. Shiells is only currently perceived as training cover but, highlighting the thinning of resources, he is just one more injury from being involved in a matchday squad.
Scotland coach Andy Robinson said: “We’ve invited Grant to train with us, given some of the recent injuries we’ve had on both sides of the front row.”
Scotland team doctor James Robson provided more information on the state of the casualties, adding: “The Edinburgh Rugby props Allan Jacobsen and Geoff Cross are returning to some elements of team training today for the first time since their respective hamstring and concussion injuries.
“Ryan Grant, the Glasgow Warriors prop, sustained a concussive episode against Treviso at the weekend and is currently subject to our graduated return to play protocol.” However, it was stated that the Scotland medics remain confident that all three will recover in time to be fit to be considered for selection for Scotland’s opening EMC Test against New Zealand, now 11 days away.
They are not the only players this week giving cause for concern, however. Locks Jim Hamilton (ribs), Al Kellock (back) and Richie Gray (ankle) as well as flanker Ross Rennie (shoulder) are the forwards still to be passed fit to take a full part in training. The two stand-offs, Ruaridh Jackson (shoulder) and Greig Laidlaw (neck), were also reported to have missed training, while experienced centre Nick De Luca (ankle) and wing Sean Lamont (facial) are similarly sitting out elements of training.
Added to the other names not in St Andrews – Chris Cusiter, Duncan Weir and Rory Lamont, for example – it is a worrying picture for the coach, who will today announce his captain.
Kelly Brown and Ross Ford are both in the frame, with Brown the favourite having been denied the opportunity in the RBS Six Nations only by injury and Ford stepping in as his deputy. However, the hooker went on to lead Scotland to a first-ever three-Test success in Australasia and so, while Edinburgh have started the season with a poor run of results and Ford’s throwing-in has not been consistent, he also has claims on the leader’s jersey.
Robinson will simply be pleased to take the focus off his depleted squad and have a skipper in rude health able to talk about the challenge of claiming an historic victory over New Zealand. With what team Scotland take on that task will clearly be a matter for next week.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North west