The number of Scotland caps released by Glasgow Caledonians rose to five yesterday when 33-year-old prop Alan Watt was released from his contract.
Watt, who won three caps between 1991 and 1993, was signed from Currie two years ago, and despite struggling to become a first-choice, made 32 appearances for the Reds. Though his age might have made Watt a predictable choice for the end-of-season chop - he is the eighth player to exit the camp this season - it leaves the squad with just three contracted props and might have suggested that agreement has either been reached with former Scotland tighthead Paul Burnell or another, as yet unnamed, target.
Travelling down to Cardiff yesterday for today’s Welsh-Scottish League clash with Newport, Reds coach Richie Dixon said: "We have not yet reached an agreement with anybody, Paul Burnell or anyone else. The report which appeared in a Sunday paper last week, suggesting we were signing him on Monday, was total fiction.
"We are looking at a few props at the moment, but none are ahead of any other in terms of signing for us. But that’s not a major problem, and the fact we have released Alan does not make a difference.
"We’ve been operating with three props for a while because Lee Harrison has been injured, but he is back now, and we also have young guys in our back-up groups.’’
Dixon was given a worry yesterday, however, when the trials and tribulations of his captain, Andy Nicol, continued, with the scrum-half forced out of the match today with bronchitis.
The 30-year-old missed most of the first half of the season due to knee injuries and had to be left out of another Welsh-Scottish League match in Wales last month due to a dead leg.
Today, the Reds face the major task of beating Newport - who are bidding for a league and cup double - to move back into the top half of the league, with East Kilbride scrum-half Fraser Stott recalled to the starting line-up and Glasgow Hawks’ Kenny Sinclair drafted on to the bench. Scotland hooker Gordon Bulloch regains the captaincy.
Meanwhile, Edinburgh Reivers have a very different challenge, when they host bottom club Cross Keys at Myreside tomorrow (2pm), all too well aware that the Pandy Park men’s only win this season was against the Reivers.
There is further warning for the Scots in Keys’ 33-23 defeat to Cardiff on Tuesday night - the mighty Cardiff needed a try nine minutes into injury-time to finally quell the part-timers’ second-half fightback.
However, Cross Keys are without five of the pack which ran Cardiff close, due to injuries and work commitments, while the Reivers are close to full-strength, with skipper Don Mackinnon in the second row in Iain Fullarton’s absence, while Marcus Di Rollo keeps Kevin Utterson on the bench.
Newport (v Glasgow Caledonians at Rodney Parade today, 2:30pm): M Pini; M Mostyn, J Jones-Hughes, A Marinos, M Watkins; S Howarth, D Burn; C Jones, J Richards, A Garvey, S Raiwalui, I Gough, P Buckstone, G Teichmann (capt), A Popham.
Glasgow Caledonians: G Metcalfe; J McLaren, A Bulloch, J Stuart, R Kerr; T Hayes, F Stott; D Hilton, G Bulloch, G McIlwham, C Stewart, J White, G Simpson, J Petrie, G Flockhart.
Edinburgh Reivers (v Cross Keys at Myreside tomorrow, 2pm): C Paterson; C Murray, M Di Rollo, D Officer, C Sharman; D Hodge, G Burns; A Jacobsen, S Scott, C Smith, R Metcalfe, D Mackinnon (capt), M Leslie, S Taylor, G Dall.
Cross Keys: C Bushell; C Arnold, A Price, G Bowen, S Crane; S Bai, C Ellis; J Rogers, L Gardner, M Jones, N Kelly, D Davies, A Howarth, R Williams, C Brown.