Amid the litany of gloom surrounding Glasgow Warriors’ mounting injury woes yesterday there was a bright spot with the news that back-rower Adam Ashe will return to the bench at Zebre today after ten weeks out with an ankle injury.
The Scotland cap appeared to have put a catalogue of injury troubles behind him with an encouraging start to the season when he was practically an ever-present until the jinx struck again in October.
His comeback provides coach Dave Rennie with very slight respite from an alarming wounded list ahead of a period when he will lose the bulk of his squad to Six Nations duty.
As well as the freak gym injury that will keep Zander Fagerson out for at least eight weeks and the concern over Fraser Brown’s concussion issues, there were further blows with flanker Callum Gibbins out for at least a month and a half and young lock Scott Cummings also facing a couple of months on the sidelines. Gibbins has made a huge impact since arriving from New Zealand and would have hoped to step into a leadership role during the international window, but Rennie will now be without him.
“He has had an Achilles injury. We tried to manage it conservatively but it picked up a bit of a tear and had to be operated on,” explained the coach. “We are hoping it will be six weeks. He will miss the European games and we have a couple of weeks off so hopefully he will be back around the time of the Munster game.”
Like Fagerson, Cummings also suffered his injury during training this week.
“The boys were mauling and he got his finger caught in a jersey,” said Rennie. “He has a fracture above his knuckle. We’re looking at six to seven weeks hopefully.”
Scotland stars Huw Jones, Jonny Gray and Finn Russell, who will start with young scrum-half George Horne for the first time, have all been named in the team but Rennie has been able to rest a couple, such as scrum-half Ali Price.
“With the Scottish guys there is a rotation policy,” he said. “We considered resting Finn this week, but what we have decided is that this game is more important than Europe over the next couple of weeks. With Scott getting injured this week as well, we’ve decided to take Jonny so we will rest him over the next fortnight – and likewise with Finn.”
Rob Harley will captain the side with a view to taking on that role during the Test period, although Rennie may lose him to Scotland duty too.
“Callum Gibbins captained the side during that [international] period last time,” said the Kiwi. “It depends when he comes back. It also depends on Scotland’s views on Rob. He was in the mix last time but injured his knee in the first week and was out for six weeks. He is very experienced and highly respected here. He is a great man to do the job. If we have access to him during the Six Nations then he is a likely candidate.”