Hamish Watson is out of the Rugby World Cup and AI Price is a significant doubt for the second pool game against Samoa as Scotland’s campaign went from bad to worse yesterday.
There at least was no chance of the Shinkansen bullet train which conveyed the Scots party out of Tokyo over the 330 miles to Kobe going off the tracks, but there’s a danger for Scotland that their campaign could after Sunday’s abject 27-3 defeat to Ireland in Yokohama.
Watson, who was caught in a pincer clearout of a ruck by the Irish props Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong just before half-time, suffered a knee injury and while the full detail will depend on further examinations, the initial scan shows he’s played his last game at this World Cup.
It’s a huge blow as Watson is one of the most important players to the team – along with Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell – and is the only recognised openside flanker Scotland have in their player group.
Magnus Bradbury, a different kind of back row forward but one many thought should have been selected, was already with the squad as cover for Jamie Ritchie’s facial injury and was preparing to go home, but now will stay in Japan as Watson’s replacement.
As the squad went through Shinagawa Station in Tokyo yesterday, scrum-half Price was on crutches with a restraining boot protecting a “foot-ankle” problem that will be examined more closely over the next few days.
Assistant coach Danny Wilson said it was an issue that might rule him out against Samoa but with an eight-day turnaround until the game next Monday there was every opportunity he might recover to play.
“Honestly, it’s so early after the game, we’re waiting for the medical assessment to tell us exactly what it is, if it’s very minor or not,” said Wilson. “What we’re hoping is it’s just a case of bruising and that will be that.
“I honestly don’t know if it will even affect him one game. We’ve got a longer turnaround between last night and Monday, which does allow more time medically.
“If it was the four-day turnaround we have later in the tournament we might be having a different conversation but we have a fair bit of time. Once we get the relevant results then the process kicks in in terms of recovery and training again.”
Watson’s absence was a blow, but not an insurmountable one, he argued.
“Jamie Ritchie has shown himself capable of playing openside,” he said. “Jamie can play six and seven and Hamish has probably been the only ‘seven-seven’.
“But we have other players of quality, Ritchie, John Barclay has played openside and as you saw on Sunday (hooker) Fraser Brown has played there for Scotland more than once.
“Hamish will be a miss, he’s a quality rugby player and certainly gives you some go forward and carry. We missed that when he went off on Sunday but all we can do now is focus on the players we’ve got.
“We’re very confident in them and that we can put behind us the injury and the performance and move forward to Samoa.”