Scotland tighthead WP Nel is hopeful that his neck injury will clear up in a few weeks but is resigned to missing all three of the November Tests.
The Edinburgh prop is frustrated to be missing the games against Australia, Argentina and Georgia but said he had absolute faith that 20-year-old Zander Fagerson will rise to the occasion if he is selected as his replacement.
“The neck is fine. Hopefully things will clear up in the next few weeks,” said the South Africa-born forward who has 15 caps and has been tipped as a potential Lions Test starter next summer.
“It happened three or four weeks ago in a scrum. The scrum went down. It is a thing that has been there for a while now and it flared up on the Monday [after last month’s Harlequins game]. It’s just a bit of time hopefully and it’ll be good to go again.”
Nel had missed a few weeks with the problem before returning for that win over the English side in the European Challenge Cup but refutes suggestions that he came back too soon.
“No. When it first happened they scanned me and sent it to the surgeon,” explained Nel. “He said that if I was symptom-free for the Quins game then I could play.
“I was symptom free and came through everything, it was just that you can’t prepare for a physical game properly in a week and there were a couple of physical points in the game when I wasn’t comfortable at all.”
Fagerson has one cap to his name and, while Nel concedes that the leap from the club game to Test arena is a “huge difference”, he feels the young Glasgow Warrior is ready.
“It is time for the young boys to step up,” said the 30-year-old Nel. “I think Zander has done well through the season so far so it is definitely an opportunity for him to do the jersey proud. It’s good for him to get experience. It’s great to see him there.
“He’s really good. To be young and to have his experience already is good. He will get better and better.
“He is a big boy and he is strong. That’s what you need as a tighthead. All the qualities are there, it’s just small things that every coach will want, something different.
“It’s a learning process for him. He’s still young.”