Scotland to wait on extent of Ryan Grant injury

LOOSEHEAD prop Ryan Grant remains Scotland’s main casualty from the first Word Cup warm-up Test after medical assessments took place yesterday.

Scotland loosehead prop Ryan Grant is carried off on a stretcher, sparking fears for his participation in the Rugby World Cup. Picture: PA

The Glasgow forward was taken off with an ankle injury in the 44th minute of Saturday’s 28-22 defeat by Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

A Scotland team spokesperson said: “An X-ray after the game showed no fracture, with the results of a detailed scan later this week expected to give greater insight into the extent of his injury.”

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Vern Cotter’s side travel to Turin this weekend to play the first of back-to-back Tests against Italy, with the Azzurri visiting 
BT Murrayfield the following week. A match against France in Paris at the beginning of next month will complete the preparations after the final 31-man squad for the tournament in England is named.

Scotland’s other starting prop on Saturday, Jon Welsh, was also among the injured, departing three minutes after Grant with a head knock. He underwent an a HIA (head injury assessment), which confirmed his concussion. The Scotland spokesperson revealed yesterday that Welsh is now symptom free and has begun the graduated return-to-play protocol.

Hugh Blake, the 22-year-old New Zealand-born flanker who enjoyed an impressive debut in dark blue, suffered a dislocated finger during the match but was back to full training yesterday.

Hooker Fraser Brown reported mild hamstring discomfort and will be subject to further management by the medical team. Consequently, the Glasgow Warriors hooker Kevin Bryce has joined the national team in training this week as a precaution.

Meanwhile, one of Ireland’s key performers from Saturday’s close contest, stand-off Ian Madigan, hopes reiterating his ability to boss a Test match backline can boost his World Cup selection claims. The Leinster playmaker’s ability to feature at 
10, 12 and even 15 could prove the key to his World Cup selection chances – at the expense potentially of a midfield stalwart like Gordon D’Arcy. D’Arcy’s chances of reaching a fifth career World Cup seem under threat after a mixed showing on his 82nd cap against the Scots.

Madigan’s versatility could even hand head coach Joe Schmidt the option to retain Paddy Jackson and squeeze three stand-offs into his final 31-man squad, to be submitted on 
31 August.

“It was a very important part against Scotland, showing that I could run the game,” said Madigan, whose inch-perfect cross-field kick into the arms of Luke Fitzgerald helped clinch victory for the world’s second-ranked side.

“People love using the phrase ‘game management’, and I’ve been working really hard on that with Joe [Schmidt].

“One of my main roles as an out-half is to bring other players into the game, and I did my best to do that, and in fairness to the guys around me they made it very easy for me.”

British and Irish Lions fly-half Johnny Sexton naturally enters the World Cup as Ireland’s playmaker-in-chief, but Madigan’s flexibility renders him central to Schmidt’s overall plans.

Schmidt will thrash out the bulk of any remaining selection dilemmas this week, before Ireland host Wales for their third of four World Cup warm-up clashes on 29 August. Ireland will complete their warm-up schedule against England at Twickenham on 5 September, but by then their final World Cup squad will be set in stone. Schmidt’s men open their Pool D campaign against Canada in Cardiff on 19 September.

The Wales Test will be the last chance for any fringe stars to win World Cup selection, and Madigan has admitted training has become increasingly frenetic across the summer.

“It’s really competitive, I think across the board you’ve got minimum two players and three in some cases competing for each position,” said Madigan.

“That’s great: it means there’s an edge in training, every single run you get in training counts. There’s a lot of guys who have put their hands up over the last two weeks, there’s been massive preparation and then another game coming up at the end of the month. Guys are going to have other chances again, and everyone knows just how important those opportunities are.”