Gregor Townsend says he'll '˜wait and see' on Stuart Hogg
Scotland coach Gregor Townsend insists he is relaxed about the prospect of his star player, full-back Stuart Hogg, going into the opener against Wales with no matches under his belt since November.
The back-to-back Six Nations man of the tournament picked up a hip injury during the autumn Tests and has a had a subsequent foot problem. His last opportunity to get some game time comes in Glasgow’s final European Champions Cup pool game at home to Exeter Chiefs on Saturday, but it is not certain that he will feature.
Townsend said: “We’ll wait and see. I know he’s back in full training. So it’s how he gets through this week and if Glasgow decide to play him or put him on the bench, or if they feel he’s not 100 per cent to play in the game.
“We got some good news about his foot just before the weekend, which allowed him to resume full training this week. His hip injury had not been an issue, he’d got over that two or three weeks ago.
“If he doesn’t play, we don’t see any issues with him getting back to full fitness. His first game after being out since the Lions was against Leinster and he was outstanding. The following week he played very well against Samoa.
“We’ll have two weeks’ build-up to that Wales game that will include some very tough sessions. So for guys like Stuart, Greig Laidlaw, Ryan Wilson, Tommy Seymour, who we believe will be back this week, it will be a chance to prove they are fit to play international rugby.”
The main back-up possibilities for Hogg come from either end of the experience spectrum in the shape of 32-times capped Ruaridh Jackson and Edinburgh youngster Blair Kinghorn, who turns 21 tomorrow and has earned a maiden call -up to the senior squad.
“This is his first involvement and its due to the great form he’s been in this season,” said Townsend.
“He was in line to be in our November squad due to the way he started this season. He did have a dip in form around October which put paid to that, but we think he’s played really well since that period.
“We know from speaking to the Edinburgh coaches that he has been really professional and diligent, and he’s getting the reward by producing consistently good performances for Edinburgh,” added Townsend.
“He’s very good in attack, he improved his defence, he’s got an all-round skill-set because he used to play stand-off, his kicking game is excellent, he’s got real potential to be a threat in the air given he is 6ft 5in, but his key strength is his speed – and his speed could give him opportunities somewhere in the back three other than just at full-back.”