SCOTLAND back-row forward John Hardie has been ruled out of Sunday’s Rugby World Cup match against USA at Elland Road because of a head knock.
Hardie is the only specialist openside flanker in Vern Cotter’s squad and turned in an impressive try-scoring performance in the win over Japan in Gloucester on Wednesday.
His withdrawal means Cotter has had to shuffle his pack. Ryan Wilson has been promoted from the bench into the starting back-row at No 7.
To accommodate Wilson’s inclusion and retain cover for the forwards, hooker Fraser Brown drops out of the staring XV and will now take the No 20 shirt as back-row replacement, with Ross Ford starting as hooker.
Kevin Bryce comes into the match-day squad to take the replacement hooker role vacated by Ford.
Hardie sustained a head knock in the Japan game and failed one of the assessments yesterday which he needed to pass in order to return to competitive action.
A statement from the Scottish Rugby Union said: “Having produced inconclusive results to a precautionary HIA 2 (head injury assessment) after Wednesday’s win over Japan, the openside – who remains symptom free – was reassessed yesterday afternoon (Friday).
“It was here that, 48 hours after the game (HIA 3), Hardie failed one component of the tested elements (Cogstate), and was subsequently considered unavailable for tomorrow’s game. He will now continue with his graduated return-to-play protocol.”
Scotland team to face USA at Elland Road, Leeds, Sunday (kick-off 2.30pm, live on ITV)
15 Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors)
14 Sean Maitland (London Irish)
13 Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors)
12 Peter Horne (Glasgow Warriors)
11 Tim Visser (Harlequins)
10 Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors)
9 Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors; captain)
1 Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors)
2 Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby)
3 Jon Welsh (Newcastle Falcons)
4 Richie Gray (Castres)
5 Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby)
6 Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan)
7 Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors)
8 Josh Strauss (Glasgow Warriors)
16 Kevin Bryce (Glasgow Warriors)
17 Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh Rugby)
18 Willem Nel (Edinburgh Rugby)
19 Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors)
20 Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors)
21 Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester)
22 Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors)
23 Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby)