Hamish Watson is to miss the rest of Edinburgh’s season as well as Scotland’s summer tour to the Americas after opting to have surgery on a shoulder problem. The openside flanker, who last played in the Six Nations match against Italy, took the decision after consulting Gregor Townsend and Richard Cockerill, head coaches of Scotland and Edinburgh respectively.
“Hamish Watson is going to have surgery on his shoulder on Thursday, because he’s got a problem with his a/c,” Cockerill revealed yesterday. “[It’s] something that we probably could have managed through, but he’s been struggling with this for a little while, so we’ve chosen to get it done now because he’ll then be fully fit for pre-season and he can have a summer off and he can recuperate. It’s going to be a big season.
“He’s a relatively small man in the modern game who plays big, and it’s a World Cup year, so in consultation with Gregor I think the right thing to do for the player is to get that done now, rather than him play at 80, 90 per cent. He’ll have a full pre-season for the first time in a long time. If you look at guys like [Stuart] McInally and [Grant] Gilchrist, this summer not going on tour and having a good rest and a good pre-season has actually been very good for them.
“Hamish has had a high workload, he plays in a very combative position and he’s a very combative player who’s not a massive man, so I think it’s just sensible that we look after him, he has his clean-up on his shoulder and has a good break. He’ll start with us in pre-season and be available for the start of the season and he’ll be fresh and ready to go.”
The loss of Watson is a blow to Edinburgh as they face a critical stage of their season. If they beat Ulster at home on Friday they will qualify for the Pro14 end-of-season play-offs, then after that they have two remaining regular-season games, against the Scarlets and then Glasgow Warriors.
However, Cockerill is confident that he has good cover at openside, and that whoever he selects to play against Ulster will rise to the occasion. “John Hardie’s available,” the coach continued. “Jamie Ritchie’s played very well for us in Hardie’s absence; so has Luke Crosbie. In fact, our young players have stood up, and Crosbie and Ritchie both started against Leinster at home. If you want young lads to have experience you’ve got to play and if opportunity arises those guys will play, because they’re good players and they’ve played well for us.”
Scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, who has missed Edinburgh’s last two matches after sustaining a head injury in the win over Munster last month, could come into contention for a place against Ulster. “Sam’s coming through his concussion protocol and that’s looking very positive,” Cockerill added.
Hidalgo-Clyne was able to resume training quite quickly after being injured, but sat out both the league win in Connacht and the home Challenge Cup loss to Cardiff after complaining of headaches.
Meanwhile, yesterday’s signing of Italian international tighthead prop Pietro Ceccarelli may not be the end of Edinburgh’s involvement in the transfer market. Cockerill has been linked for some time with the South African loosehead prop Pierre Schoeman, and suggested yesterday if he was unable to complete that signing he would look elsewhere to bolster his front row.
“Schoeman’s playing very well for the Bulls – he was man of the match at the weekend. I would like to add another loosehead that’s not Scottish qualified, because we put ourselves at risk and he’s a guy we’re talking to. When I have some news you can have it, but at the moment that’s just what it is, it’s in discussion. He’s one of a few that potentially are available.”