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Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell withdraw from Scotland squad for Italy game

By PA
Scotland's Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell look dejected at full time during a Guinness Six Nations match between Scotland and Ireland at BT Murrayfield, on March 12, 2023, in Edinburgh,Scotland. (Photo by Ross Parker/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Scotland duo Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell have withdrawn from the squad ahead of Saturday’s final Guinness Six Nations match against Italy.

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The influential pair went off in the closing stages of Sunday’s defeat by Ireland with ankle and knee injuries respectively and are returning to their clubs for treatment.

Edinburgh fly-half Charlie Savala has been called in to the squad, while Josh Bayliss has returned to the group after being released to play for Bath at the weekend.

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It remains to be seen if Richie Gray will be fit for this weekend’s match at BT Murrayfield. The 33-year-old lock was forced off after just six minutes on Sunday with suspected rib damage. He has remained with the squad for the time being, raising hopes that he might be available to face Italy.

A statement on Monday from Scottish Rugby read: “Stuart Hogg sustained an ankle injury and will be unavailable for this weekend’s match against Italy. He will return to his club in due course for further management of this injury.

“Finn Russell suffered an injury to one of his knee ligaments. He will return to Racing 92 to continue his rehabilitation.

“Richie Gray sustained an injury during the Ireland match and will remain with the squad to be continued to be assessed by medics.”

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Flankly 1 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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