The loosehead prop has been tipped to win a place in Warren Gatland’s squad for the tour of South Africa but Sutherland must undergo more scans to see if he requires surgery.
An operation would rule him out of tour contention, whether with Scotland or the Lions.
Richard Cockerill his coach at Edinburgh, said his fitness would be “touch and go” even if surgery is not needed.
Sutherland is not the only injury concern for Cockerill. Darcy Graham also has a shoulder problem and has gone under the knife and could be out for up to four months.
“Darcy has had surgery on his shoulder to repair a long-standing issue,” revealed Cockerill.
“That was scanned last week and the best form of treatment given where we are in the season is to have surgery to repair that, and that will probably be the best part of between 12 and 16 weeks to recover.”
The better news for Edinburgh is that Stuart McInally is on the mend and should return for the Rainbow Cup matches against Glasgow next month. The hooker missed the entire Six Nations with a neck injury.
“McInally we’re hoping will be fit for Glasgow and Rory Sutherland is having more scans on his shoulder to decide whether he needs surgery or whether it can just be rehabbed,” said Cockerill.
“First diagnosis was a lot better than it could have been potentially so we’re hoping now that Rory will have another scan which will show a bit more detail and hopefully we’ll be able to avoid the surgeon’s knife.”
Asked if an operation would mean Sutherland missing out on a summer tour, Cockerill said: “Yes. And it would still be several weeks if it was non-surgical. It would put him in the timeframes potentially to be in and around some of those tours but it would be touch and go, I think.”
Scotland have yet to announce their summer plans but are expected to undertake some sort of tour.
The Lions squad will be named on May 6 and there is hope that a clutch of Scotland players will be selected, with Stuart Hogg, Finn Russell, Duhan van der Merwe, Zander Fagerson and Hamish Watson all impressing during a Six Nations campaign which saw the Scots win in London and Paris in the same season for the first time since 1926.
Watson’s Lions prospects are fast becoming a cause celebre, with some commentators down south playing down his chances. As his club coach, Cockerill is all too aware of the flanker’s prodigious talents but the Edinburgh chief knows Watson faces some stiff competition.
“Hamish has had a fantastic Six Nations which was obviously recognised by being named player of the tournament,” said Cockerill. “As I’ve said previously, I thought he was very consistent in delivering a top end performance every time he played.
“He is clearly a very, very good player. Will he be a British and Irish Lion? Well, we’ll have to wait and see. That’s up to other people to decide, but he’s certainly put himself in a place where he is going to be central to that conversation.
“But there is some real quality to pick from, and sometimes it is abort combinations, or about guys who can play multiple positions. Warren Gatland has already spoken about flexibility when taking potentially a smaller squad.
“But Hamish can do no more than what he has already done – I think he’s put himself in the best position to get picked, and then it is a subjective choice on whether he goes or not.”