World Cup heartbreak for Gilchrist but optimism over Russell fitness
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.