SCOTLAND’s injury worries have mounted as they prepare for their last game of the Six Nations Championship.
Mark Bennett is likely to miss the Italy match on Saturday after sustaining two injuries against England, while six other players who were involved in the weekend’s 61-21 defeat have also needed treatment.
Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour and Ryan Wilson will all need to complete the head-injury assessment protocol before being cleared to take part, and Richie Gray, Huw Jones and Finn Russell also face check-ups.
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“Mark Bennett left the field after four minutes with a knee and arm injury,” a Scottish Rugby statement said yesterday. “He will be subject to further care and assessment, however it is expected that he will take no further part in the current RBS 6 Nations Championship.
“Three players are being treated for concussion (Hogg, Seymour and Wilson) and are now subject to the completion of the HIA protocol. Russell, Jones (both knee) and Richie Gray (hamstring) will also have precautionary scans at Spire Murrayfield Hospital early in the week following musculoskeletal complaints the morning after the match.”
The normal replacement for Bennett on the bench would be Duncan Taylor, but the Saracens centre missed the Calcutta Cup because of injury and has yet to feature for Scotland in this campaign. Gloucester’s Matt Scott is next in line for a call-up.
Vern Cotter’s team have been hit by injuries throughout the campaign, having lost Greig Laidlaw, Josh Strauss and John Hardie. Willem Nel was ruled out of the tournament before it began, while his fellow-prop Alasdair Dickinson saw his hopes of a return to international action dashed after being injured playing for Edinburgh.
Cotter named a 37-man squad for the competition, and could call on some members of it who have yet to play before turning to outsiders. The odds are on most of the half-dozen other than Bennett being cleared to play, but if Russell, Hogg, Seymour and Jones were all ruled out the back division would be down to the bare bones.
“It’s a contact sport,” Cotter said at the weekend when asked if he thought Test rugby had become too physical. “That’s why the players play it – they enjoy the contact.”
“At the moment we have injuries coming from it. I will try to deal with what’s in place at the moment and get on as best as possible. Some days you have them and some days you have more of them.”
Scotland can still have their best Six Nations for more than a decade if they beat Italy, and after winning against Ireland and Wales at Murrayfield Cotter hopes that the self-belief which deserted his team at Twickenham will return for a match which could take the team up to second in the final table.
“We seem to play with a lot more confidence at home,” he accepted. “That’s a great thing, a good start, and once we develop that we can start taking it to these away venues.”