Hamish Watson sees neurotrauma specialist and is a fitness concern ahead of Scotland’s Six Nations opener against England
The flanker joins a growing list of Scotland players who could miss the championship opener against England at Twickenham on February 4. Darcy Graham (knee injury), Zander Fagerson (hamstring) and Rory Darge (knee) are all currently sidelined, with Gregor Townsend due to name his squad in mid-January. Watson and Darge are Scotland leading two opensides, creating particular pressure on that position, although Jamie Ritchie could switch from blindside.
Watson lasted only 18 minutes of Scotland’s autumn Test against the All Blacks on November 13 before going off for a head injury assessment. Edinburgh Rugby are awaiting results of a scan he had under the auspices of Prof Toni Belli.
“He has seen the specialist down in Birmingham and we are waiting to see the scan results,” said Mike Blair, the Edinburgh coach. “Everything else has come through as fine but because he has had a number [of head knocks] in a short time he has to have an enforced break. We’re not 100 per cent sure when he will be back but he is feeling really good and he’s doing a lot of running and weights.”
Asked if he could return in time for the Six Nations, Blair said: “I would have thought around that time.”
Belli is Professor of Trauma Neurosurgery at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and also an independent member of the Expert Panel on Concussion and Head Injury for the Football Association and Rugby Football Union.
“He has worked with the military a lot,” added Blair. “Our guys go to see him and I think it is great the care they are getting. It is not so much that we are getting more head knocks – we’re just more conscious of them and make sure guys get the right treatment.”
Blair’s more immediate concern ahead of Friday’s match with Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun is the hooker’s position. Stuart McInally will miss the 1872 Cup opener and the return leg at BT Murrayfield on December 30 after taking a head knock in the opening minutes of the win over Castres on Saturday. “He is definitely unavailable for the next couple of weeks,” said Blair.
With Dave Cherry and Adam McBurney also both sidelined, new signing Tom Cruse stepped up to the plate against Castres, playing for 77 minutes in the 31-20 win. The former Wasps hooker is likely to start on Friday, with Patrick Harrison providing cover on the bench. Harri Morris has also returned to the club following a loan spell at London Scottish.
Duhan van der Merwe is on course to face Glasgow after an ankle injury forced him to miss the Castres game but it is too early to say whether Blair Kinghorn will be fit.
“Blair had a back spasm,” said the Edinburgh coach. “You never really know how long they’re going to take to clear up. He didn’t train on Tuesday but our expectation is that he should be available for selection on Friday.”
Edinburgh, meanwhile, will welcome over 1500 Ukrainian refugees to their home match against Glasgow a week on Friday. The tickets will go to displaced families living on cruise ships MS Victoria and MS Ambition, docked in Leith and on the Clyde.
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