Scotland Rugby World Cup: Darcy Graham passed fit to face South Africa after coming through 'big day'

Darcy Graham has been declared fit for Scotland’s Rugby World Cup opener against South Africa after coming through training this week unscathed.

The winger missed the final warm-up game against Georgia with a thigh injury and was unable to train with the team last week. With seven tries in his last four Test matches, Graham is vital cog in Scotland’s backline and assistant coach John Dalziel said he would now be considered for selection to face the Springboks in Marseille on Sunday.

“Wednesday was his second day training,” said Dalziel. “He is fully fit and ready to go. If selected, he is ready to go. Wednesday tends to be our more physical training day, the end of the week tends to be more the speed element and the contact. Wednesday was a big day.”

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It means that Luke Crosbie is the only known injury concern ahead of the Pool B clash against the holders. The Edinburgh flanker hurt his ribs before the Georgia game. “Luke Crosbie has trained but not fully with the squad,” added Dalziel. “Could he be available? Possibly.”

Darcy Graham has been passed fit to face South Africa in Scotland's World Cup opener. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)Darcy Graham has been passed fit to face South Africa in Scotland's World Cup opener. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Darcy Graham has been passed fit to face South Africa in Scotland's World Cup opener. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

South Africa, meanwhile, sprang a surprise by naming their team for Marseille two days early. Line-ups are usually announced 48 hours before the match but the Springboks clearly have no qualms about letting Scotland have an early look at the players they will be facing on Sunday.

Faf de Klerk, the scrum-half, will win his 50th cap and is one of 11 players to retain their starting places from the team who inflicted a record 35-7 defeat on New Zealand at Twickenham two weeks ago. There is no place in the squad for Canan Moodie who was so impressive at centre in the win over the All Blacks. Moodie misses out with a hamstring injury, and lock Jean Kleyn was also not considered due to a knee niggle.

There is only one change in the Springbok starting pack, at No 8, where Jasper Wiese takes over from Duane Vermeulen, who moves to the bench. The changes in the backline see Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel unite in a midfield pairing, and Cheslin Kolbe returns as a left wing in place of Makazole Mapimpi. As expected, head coach Jacques Nienaber has opted for a six-two split in favour of the forwards on the replacements’ bench with Bongi Mbonambi (hooker), Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane (both props), RG Snyman (lock), Marco van Staden (flanker) and Vermeulen named as the impact forwards, while Grant Williams and Willie le Roux provide backline cover. Siya Kolisi will captain the World Cup holders who moved up to second in the world rankings with the win over New Zealand. Scotland, who will name their team on Friday, are fifth.

Jacques Nienaber, the South Africa head coach, said he expected a close match at Stade Velodrome. “Scotland are a quality team with a strong pack and skilful backs, and they play with a lot of intensity, so we need to be sharp on attack and defence on Sunday,” he said. “They have proved in the last few seasons that they can beat any team.”

South Africa (v Scotland, Sunday, 4.45pm BST, Marseille): Damian Willemse; Kurt-Lee Arendse, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Cheslin Kolbe; Manie Libbok, Faf de Klerk; Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jasper Wiese.

Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, RG Snyman, Marco van Staden, Duane Vermeulen, Grant Williams, Willie le Roux.



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