Stuart Hogg’s innocuous ankle injury has resulted in surgery and the Scotland and British Lions full-back is out for a lengthy period including the four November tests.
Hogg suffered what looked like a routine knock less than ten minutes into the game against Munster two weeks ago, but after treatment played on for more than an hour before being replaced.
However pain from the ankle worsened in the following days, and on being sent home from Glasgow Warriors’ current South African trip a scan discovered an injury to Hogg’s syndesmosis – the point at which the tibia and fibula, the two bones of the lower leg meet, just above the ankle joint.
Hogg underwent surgery and the BMI Ross Hall Hospital in Glasgow and is expected out for 10-12 weeks – effectively the remainder of 2018, including the first four rounds of Glasgow’s Heineken Champions Cup campaign and the four November tests against Wales, South Africa, Argentina and Fiji.
“I’m gutted to be missing some important games for Glasgow Warriors and Scotland over the next few months,” said Hogg.
“My focus just now is working hard and getting fit, so I can play my part in what is a long season.
“I’d like to thank the medical staff at Glasgow Warriors and BMI Ross Hall Hospital for all their care and support.”
It’s Hogg’s third serious injury in the last 18 months, after he enjoyed a prolonged spell from his debut season as a teenager with relatively few ailments.
During the 2017 British Lions tour to South Africa he suffered a fractured cheekbone in an accidental collision with team-mate Conor Murray which led to him missing the majority of the tour and the start of the 2017-18 season.
A back injury suffered against New Zealand in the November tests last year – again he played on after the incident and it flared up later – caused him to miss several weeks although he returned to play a full part in the Six Nations campaign.
Hogg’s club coach Dave Rennie stressed he had “no issues” with the decision to keep Hogg playing after the incident against Munster.
“Often when you have an injury the medics will make a decision immediately,” he said. “If they’re no good, they’re off immediately. But sometimes it’s a red light and sometimes it’s orange, we’re going to monitor them for a couple of minutes and see how they go.
“That’s how it was with Hoggy, he reported after a few minutes that he was feeling a lot better. We’ve got no issues with that and it has had no effect on the recovery time.”
The severity of the injury only became clear after five days, he said.
“He was with us in South Africa and it normally takes about five days to get an accurate assessment around the ankles and for the swelling to go,” continued Rennie.
“Day five there was a bit of pain, and then the medics were saying it was probably the syndesmosis and we had to send him home.
“The length of time is disappointing, but it is what it is. The shame is he’s worked really hard to get himself in such good nick and he played really well in the first two games.”
Glasgow will slot Ruaridh Jackson in where he excelled as Hogg’s deputy for much of last season, while Gregor Townsend is possibly better off than he would have imagined 12 months ago even without the team’s star man.
The Scots negotiated Hogg’s absence at the eleventh hour in the autumn test against Australia a year ago to the tune of a record win over the Wallabies and seven tries, when Sean Maitland moved to full-back.
In the last year the development of Edinburgh’s young 15 Blair Kinghorn has come on apace, and the 6ft 5in 21-year-old is likely get a clear run in the shirt in Hogg’s absence for the tests against Wales in Cardiff (November 3) and Fiji (November 10), South Africa (November 17) and Argentina (November 24), all at BT Murrayfield.