World Cup heart­break for Gilchrist but op­ti­mism over Rus­sell fit­ness

The Herald - Sport - - FRONT PAGE - LEWIS STU­ART

AS feared when he hob­bled off just 18 min­utes into Scot­land’s week­end win over the USA in the World Cup, Grant Gilchrist, the Ed­in­burgh lock, has been ruled out of the rest of the tour­na­ment. He tore a groin mus­cle and has re­turned home to have the latest set­back in an in­jury-rav­aged year treated.

“He’s pretty gut­ted,” said Dun­can Hodge, an as­sis­tant coach, as the team ar­rived at their New­cas­tle base yesterday. “Ob­vi­ously the World Cup is the pin­na­cle of any­one’s ca­reer but if you back up the year he’s had, and he’s worked so hard as well to get fit. When we started off in June he was 12 months’ work be­hind ev­ery­one else, so for him to get where he got to and be play­ing as well as he was was an achieve­ment in it­self.

“To get shot down like that – well, we all feel for him. It’s a big blow for the squad but its one of those things. You just need to look around, Eng­land, Wales, ev­ery­one is pick­ing up in­juries, it’s just the na­ture of the game. It’s un­for­tu­nate.”

There pos­i­tive news for Scot­land re­gard­ing Finn Rus­sell. The fly-half was on crutches yesterday, but Hodge dis­missed this as merely a med­i­cal pre­cau­tion as he pro­tects the an­kle he hurt dur­ing the sec­ond half of the 39-16 win over the USA.

“He played, was on the bus, then spent all night go­ing through re­cov­ery and treat­ments later so, like all the knocks we’ve got, it will just be a case of see­ing how he gets on in the next cou­ple of days and tak­ing it day by day,” said Hodge. “The medics will as­sess him and we’ll take it from there. Lets hope he’s fine.”

There is no word yet on a re­place­ment for Gilchrist. The team were trav­el­ling from Leeds to New­cas­tle yesterday and with three fit locks left in the squad, there is no need to rush in a re­place­ment.

With Jim Hamil­ton re­tired and Ben Too­lis in­jured, Vern Cotter, the head coach, has two op­tions. He could call in Rob Har­ley as a straight re­place­ment who also cov­ers back row.

The al­ter­na­tive is to re­verse his ear­lier de­ci­sion to go with only one spe­cial­ist open­side and bring in ei­ther Blair Cowan or John Bar­clay to cover the po­si­tion.

That would avoid the pos­si­bil­ity of another team shuf­fle like the one forced on him when John Hardie sus­tained a blow to the head.

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