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The timely Fagerson fitness update Scotland have been waiting on

By PA
(Photo by Ross MacDonald/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Zander Fagerson has been declared fit for the Scotland Guinness Six Nations opener away to England on Saturday. The 27-year-old prop’s involvement in the early part of the tournament has been in doubt since he suffered a hamstring injury in Glasgow’s URC match victory at Zebre in early December. Despite playing no rugby since that match two months ago, the 2021 British and Irish Lions squad member has shown up well in training and could be thrown straight into the starting XV at Twickenham.

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Scotland forwards coach John Dalziel said: “Zander Fagerson is probably looking in the shape of his life. We are lucky enough that he’s been able to do more than we thought last week. This is his second week of full training and he has done absolutely everything. He has not had to modify anything. He is fit and available and pushing for selection this weekend, which is great.”

Scotland are at a pre-tournament training camp on the Costa Blanca and Dalziel, who revealed everybody within the squad is fit and available, believes the trip is proving beneficial. “We are really blessed that we have got a world-class facility at Oriam with the indoor pitch and the grass outdoor pitch,” he said.

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“But like a lot of international teams – Ireland are in Portugal, and other teams are away as well – we want to train on the grass as much as possible and in Scotland, that is not always guaranteed.

“Although the indoor pitch is great, we are playing on grass this weekend and this gives us almost a guarantee that we can train on grass. It’s not just that, but on either side of the session we are able to do walk-throughs and the guys are loving getting that vitamin D boost.”

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Dalziel admitted that England represent something of an unknown quantity as Saturday’s match will be their first since Steve Borthwick replaced Eddie Jones as head coach. “It’s a tough one for us because they have changed their attack coach, their defence coach and their head coach so that is a change in philosophies in a few areas,” he said. “We know in international rugby that it’s very tough to change everything all at once.

“We know the philosophies around the coaches they have so a bit of our preview will be considering the old England under Eddie and also what a new England might look like, and obviously a lot around the individuals who have been selected. That will tell us a lot about the way they will play.”

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Scotland have claimed the Calcutta Cup after four of the last five meetings, but Dalziel is adamant that will count for little on Saturday. “We’re aware of both sides of that,” he said.

“Prior to this run, we went on a barren run where we went a long time without a win in this fixture so it means a lot to the lads (to be on a good run). The history speaks for itself in terms of the fixture but the last few years mean nothing going into this weekend.”

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