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Scotland handed double injury blow for Six Nations

By Bryn Palmer
Castre Olympique's Adrien Seguret tackles Edinburgh's Javan Sebastian during the EPCR Challenge Cup match between Edinburgh Rugby and Castres Olympique at DAM Health Stadium on December 16, 2023 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)

Scotland have suffered a second injury blow ahead of the Six Nations with Edinburgh tighthead prop Javan Sebastian likely to miss their opening two matches against Wales and France.

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Sebastian, 29, hobbled off in obvious distress during the capital side’s 34-21 European Challenge Cup win over Castres last Saturday.

Senior coach Sean Everitt has confirmed Sebastian will be sidelined for six to eight weeks with a knee injury.

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The most optimistic prognosis would see the former Scarlets prop return to training in the week of Scotland’s opener against Wales on 3 February.

An eight-week absence would see him miss the Cardiff encounter and the subsequent visit of France to Murrayfield on 10 February, with only a URC trip to Zebre to build up match fitness before Scotland’s third match against England on 24 February.

Fixture
United Rugby Championship
Glasgow
22 - 10
Full-time
Edinburgh
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Sebastian made a late run into Scotland’s Rugby World Cup squad and started his first Test in the 84-0 rout of Romania in Lille, after six previous caps as a replacement.

Having swapped west Wales for Edinburgh last summer, he has featured in seven of their eight matches since returning from France, starting four of them.

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With the venerable WP Nel approaching his 38th birthday, Sebastian could be expected to challenge his club-mate as the principal back-up to Zander Fagerson, Scotland’s first-choice tighthead, in a position where they lack strength in depth.

News of Sebastian’s enforced absence is the second setback for national head coach Gregor Townsend with Glasgow’s Ollie Smith also potentially facing months out of action with a knee injury sustained in Warriors’ Champions Cup win in Bayonne last Friday.

Glasgow assistant coach Pete Murchie said Smith’s injury is “definitely a concern” and “potentially going to be longer term”, although Warriors are still awaiting a definitive diagnosis once they receive the results of scans.

Smith, 21, featured in three of Scotland’s four pool matches in France and is the main rival to recent Toulouse signing Blair Kinghorn for the number 15 jersey.

After Stuart Hogg’s retirement before the World Cup, it is another position where the Scots are not blessed with abundant specialists, although the likes of Northampton centre Rory Hutchinson and Edinburgh wing Darcy Graham have featured there over the past couple of seasons.

While Edinburgh will have to do without Sebastian for the next couple of months, their options in other areas have been bolstered by the return to fitness of two more internationals, lock Sam Skinner and full-back Emiliano Boffelli.

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Skinner, who has agreed a two-year extension to his contract, should come into contention for the visit of Glasgow to Murrayfield on 30 December, while Argentine Boffelli is poised to return in Friday’s first leg of the Scottish rivals’ festive URC double-header at Scotstoun, eight weeks after injuring a foot in the Pumas’ bronze-medal match against England in Paris.

“He had a full week of training last week and his return comes at the right time with the concussion of Harry Paterson [who suffered a head knock against Castres] so he will be up for selection in the match 23 this weekend,” Everitt said.

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Boffelli’s return also gives Everitt his first chance to field a Test-class back three, with Darcy Graham now fit again to supplement Duhan van der Merwe, although the in-form Wes Goosen may have something to say about that.

“Darcy showed what he was about in the World Cup,” Everitt added. “He is a busy player on the field and likes to get his hands on the ball. The more touches he has, the more problems he causes for the opposition. It is great to have him back.

“Duhan is playing really well too and we saw bits and pieces of what he can do on Saturday. He is in good form. Every time he has worn the Edinburgh jersey this year he has done well. Having an international back three is a dream for any club.”

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