Sympathy for Worcester Warriors but why it's too soon to speculate on Scotland trio

Edinburgh forwards coach Stevie Lawrie says his heart goes out to the players and staff at Worcester Warriors but it’s too soon to speculate on the future of the club’s Scottish contingent.

Former Edinburgh players Duhan van der Merwe, left, and Rory Sutherland were called up for the British & Irish Lions tour last year. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Former Edinburgh players Duhan van der Merwe, left, and Rory Sutherland were called up for the British & Irish Lions tour last year. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

The English Premiership side were suspended from all competitions on Monday and placed into administration with debts totalling more than £25 million, including at least £6m in unpaid tax.

The Worcester squad includes Scotland international trio Rory Sutherland, Duhan van der Merwe and Murray McCallum, all former Edinburgh players.

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Mike Blair, the capital side’s head coach, and Franco Smith, his counterpart at Glasgow Warriors, have both expressed an interest in the trio, should they become available.

Worcester Warriors fans gather outside of Sixways Stadium on the day the club was placed into administration. (Picture: David Davies/PA Wire)

Lawrie, Blair’s assistant, is unsure how Monday’s developments will impact on the Worcester squad.

“For me, my thoughts are with the staff and the players there,” said Lawrie, who is in South Africa with Edinburgh. “Life is tough enough at the minute without everything that is going on. It is a shame to see how that is going, and in particular for guys that we know. My feelings go out to them because it appears to be a pretty tough and dire situation.

“It wouldn’t be right for me to comment on any speculation because I just don’t know.”

The SRU and national coach Gregor Townsend will be keen to ensure Worcester’s Scottish players are looked after with the Rugby World Cup due to begin in just under a year. Sutherland and van der Merwe were both part of the British & Irish Lions Test side in summer 2021 and will have no shortage of suitors. McCallum has played for both Scottish pro sides and, along with Sutherland and van der Merwe, was part of the Worcester team that won the Premiership Cup last season.

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Edinburgh’s more immediate concern is Saturday’s match against the Stormers, the final leg of their two-match tour to South Africa. The Scots were pipped 33-31 by the Bulls in Pretoria in the opener but are at sea level and in the cooler climes of Cape Town to face the URC champions.

The club are still assessing those who picked up knocks against the Bulls but Lawrie reported good news on Blair Kinghorn who missed the match through illness.

“Blair’s progressing really well and I would hope that if things continue on that trajectory he could well feature,” said the coach.

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Kinghorn’s place-kicking abilities would be an asset against Stormers. Edinburgh have been without their frontline kicker Emiliano Boffelli who has been on international duty with Argentina and also lost Jaco van der Walt early against the Bulls due to a head knock.

Mark Bennett took over but he also suffered a blow to the head and it was left to Henry Immelman to take two late penalties which could have won the game for Edinburgh. Unfortunately, the full-back was off target with both.

Bennett and van der Walt are both going through return to play protocols and will be assessed through the week. Grant Gilchrist has returned to training after cutting his hand against Bulls.

Lawrie was unable to say when Boffelli would be available to Edinburgh after he played in Argentina’s final Rugby Championship match against South Africa on Saturday. “He’ll have a period of rest and then he’ll come back into the equation,” said Lawrie.

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