Grant Gilchrist in line for Scotland debut against Tonga

GRANT GILCHRIST, the 22-year-old Edinburgh second row, is edging closer to a first Scotland rugby cap after Richie Gray became a major doubt for Saturday’s concluding EMC Autumn Test against Tonga in Aberdeen.

After benefitting from spending the summer of 2011 playing club rugby in New Zealand, the 6ft 7in and 18st 12lb Gilchrist has been a near ever-present for Edinburgh this season.

He was also included in coach Andy Robinson’s extended squad for a training camp at St Andrews late last month and would be up to speed with tactics as Scotland try to end a calendar year without a home win of any sort.

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Gray’s recovery from concussion sustained during the first half of Saturday’s 10-21 defeat by South Africa at Murrayfield is still being monitored but the medical prognosis is that he is likely to be sidelined.

Team doctor James Robson said in a statement: “Richie will now be subject to the return to play protocol following a concussive episode.”

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There is better news of ex-Boroughmuir and Edinburgh flanker Alasdair Strokosch who was a late withdrawal from the team. Strokosch is receiving treatment for a calf injury but is believed to the in the running for a swift return on the ground where he scored his only international try so far in a 41-0 defeat of Canada in 2009.

Meanwhile, the Scots can take heart from remarks by Springbok coach Heineke Meyer who predicted that although they will miss out on a tier two seeding in next month’s World Cup draw they can quickly bounce back.

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Said Meyer: “Other than the All Blacks there is nothing to choose between the top sides.

“Scotland are a quality side. They are a dangerous side especially with momentum. There is no reason why they can’t move up to the top four with lucky breaks and self belief.

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“Against New Zealand they were awesome scoring three really good tries. They put you under pressure and try to play to their strength which is a really good rucking game.

“Also their backs really run good angles and put you under pressure. We had to work hard on our defence otherwise there were maybe three or four more tries against us.”