SCOTLAND captain Greig Laidlaw will be out of action for 10-12 weeks after being diagnosed with a broken leg, his French club ASM Clermont Auvergne have announced. The scrum-half took an ankle knock in his team’s game against Ospreys at the weekend, and tests revealed a fracture of the fibula which will rule him out of the Autumn Tests as well as Clermont’s forthcoming European and Top 14 fixtures.
“The Scottish scrum-half took a knock to his ankle right at the end of the game against Ospreys,” Clermont said on their website. “Having complained of persistent pain after the match, Greig underwent tests which revealed a fracture of the fibula.
“The injury will not require surgery, but it will require him to rest for six weeks before starting his rehabilitation. He is expected to be unavailable for selection for between 10 and 12 weeks.”
Laidlaw, who celebrated his 32nd birthday earlier this month, last played for Scotland back in February, when an injury in the defeat by France ruled him out of the rest of the Six Nations. He returned to action with his then club, Gloucester, towards the end of the season, and was then called up by the British & Irish Lions for their tour of New Zealand, going on to make six appearances in non-Test matches.
John Barclay captained Scotland on their summer tour, and will be favourite to keep the role in next month’s Autumn Tests against Samoa, New Zealand and Australia provided he makes a successful return to action in the coming weeks. The Scarlets back-row forward sat out his team’s match against Toulon at the weekend because of a slow recovery from a concussion.
Being deprived of Laidlaw’s experience is an obvious blow for Gregor Townsend as he prepares for his first home fixtures as Scotland coach, but the sidelining of the French-based player at least removes one selection headache: who to start in the No 9 jersey. Laidlaw’s leadership qualities and goal-kicking ability remain second to none in the squad, but Glasgow Warriors scrum-half Ali Price has continued to make rapid progress, to the extent that there is a convincing argument for at least beginning some matches with him.
Without the captain, Price looks sure to start at least against the Wallabies and All Blacks, while his Warriors team-mate Henry Pyrgos is likely to be his understudy for those two games and may be given a start against the Samoans. Presuming Townsend includes three scrum-halves in his squad for the three matches, Edinburgh No 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne has the strongest claim to join the Glasgow pair, having returned to something approaching his best form over the past couple of weeks. The squad will be announced on Monday.