Six Nations: Injury update on Stuart Hogg, Zander Fagerson, Hamish Watson, Duhan van der Merwe is good news for Scotland

Scotland have received a significant boost ahead of their Guinness Six Nations opener against England with the news that Stuart Hogg, Zander Fagerson, Hamish Watson and Duhan van der Merwe are all in contention to play.

The experienced quartet have been nursing various injuries going into the championship but have been passed fit for the match at Twickenham on Saturday. Hogg, Scotland’s leading all-time try-scorer, has not played since appearing as a second-half substitute in Exeter Chiefs’ win over Bath in the West Country derby on Christmas Eve. The full-back was sidelined with a heel injury but returned to full training with Scotland last week. He was due to make his comeback in Exeter’s clash with Gloucester on Saturday but the club agreed it would be better for him to remain in camp with Scotland who are training in Spain rather than travel to Devon and back. “He’s fit, available,” said John Dalziel, the Scotland assistant coach. “And credit to Exeter, they allowed us to keep him over the weekend as well and save that travel.”

Fagerson’s absence has been even longer and arguably more concerning given Scotland’s limited options at tighthead prop. The 27-year-old limped off in the early minutes of Glasgow Warriors’ win over Zebre in Italy on December 3 and has not featured since due to a hamstring injury. But he has worked hard on his rehab, shown up well in training and could be thrown straight into the starting XV at Twickenham, with Dalziel stating that Fagerson is in “the shape of his life”. “There’s an argument that injured players come back probably in a better physical state than guys who have played eight or nine or ten games, because they get to do gym work and conditioning, and that tends to lack as the season goes on,” said Dalziel. “The break has been great. We’ve done a lot of work with him in terms of control and contact. I think he’s in the shape of his life. And he’s been dealing with contact over the last three, four, five weeks, which involves a lot of rugby that replicates game-type intensity. GPS tells us he’s good to go.”

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Watson made his comeback for Edinburgh on Saturday, playing the full 80 minutes against the Sharks. It was the flanker’s first appearance since suffering a concussion in Scotland’s 31-23 defeat by New Zealand on November 13 and Dalziel said they had exercised extra caution. “It’s praise to the medics and the support staff,” he said. “It’s a difficult one with his concussion, his history. He’s had the best of specialised treatment and he was given probably more than the appropriate time. He’s a top player, and even before getting on the field he was involved with Edinburgh in terms of full training. He played 80-odd minutes at the weekend - a real baptism of fire for him against a hugely physical Sharks team. So he’s come through that in excellent condition. He’s training like he’s never been away. It’s such a boost to have him back.”

Zander Fagerson injured his hamstring playing for Glasgow Warriors but is now in good shape. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)Zander Fagerson injured his hamstring playing for Glasgow Warriors but is now in good shape. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Zander Fagerson injured his hamstring playing for Glasgow Warriors but is now in good shape. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Van der Merwe, who has scored 14 tries in 23 appearances for Scotland, has also been passed fit following an ankle injury which has dogged him since rejoining Edinburgh from Worcester Warriors. The winger, who returned to South Africa to get married earlier this month, has trained fully with Scotland and is likely to start at Twickenham where he scored the decisive try in the famous 11-6 win in 2021. “He cut his honeymoon short because he was so desperate to get back and be involved around this first [training] weekend,” said Dalziel. “It was a very brief trip to South Africa - married and then back in with us.”



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