Scotland have suffered a fresh Six Nations blow after Darcy Graham was ruled out of their opener with Ireland just 24 hours after Murrayfield chiefs were forced to discipline star man Finn Russell.
Gregor Townsend has called up Duncan Weir to replace the suspended stand-off but the loss of livewire wing Graham to a knee injury is another major setback.
Russell was expected to be the man to pull the strings for the Scots at the Aviva Stadium next Saturday following the retirement of former skipper Greig Laidlaw, with Graham a major weapon out wide on the back of scoring five tries in his first 11 caps – but now the head coach will have to do without both.
Edinburgh flyer Graham suffered a knee injury at the Dark Blues’ Oriam base earlier this week and will not be among the group jetting out to Spain for a warm-weather build-up on Sunday.
Confirming Graham’s injury setback, the SRU said in a statement: “Edinburgh wing Darcy Graham is the only injury-enforced absentee from the group after he sustained a knee injury in training at Oriam earlier this week.
“Graham is not expected to feature in Scotland’s opening rounds of the championship after an MRI scan at Spire Murrayfield Hospital confirmed the extent of the ligament damage.”
Racing 92 maverick Russell has already been told by Scottish Rugby Union chiefs that he will not win his 50th cap in Dublin after he allegedly missed Monday’s training session following a late-night drinking session.
He left the hotel later that night, heading to his parents’ home in Stirling, and was a no-show for training the following day. Russell did return on Monday evening for crisis talks with his head coach but was informed he would not be selected to face Ireland.
He was given the option of staying to help the team prepare to face Ireland but rejected that offer and is now back in Paris.
Townsend is understood to be willing to give the former Glasgow star a second chance but wants to see a show of contrition first.
That will not be enough, however, to see him back in a dark blue jersey for the championship opener in Dublin. Instead, Weir will be given the opportunity to make his first appearance for the national team in three years.
The Worcester Warriors playmaker was a Scotland regular before losing his place to Russell ahead of the 2015 World Cup. He won the last of his 27 caps against Italy three years ago but will now look to push Adam Hastings for a starting slot against Andy Farrell’s team.