Brown concussion concern adds to Glasgow and Scotland’s troubles

Fraser Brown in action for Glasgow against Edinburgh, with Ruaridh Jackson in support. Image ©INPHO/Craig Watson.

GLASGOW hooker Fraser Brown is to see a specialist next week as concerns grow about the number of concussions he has had this season, and will not play again until a definitive diagnosis is reached. The news, announced by Warriors head coach Dave Rennie yesterday after he named his team for this afternoon’s PRO14 match against Zebre, further deepens Scotland’s front-row worries ahead of the Six Nations Championship – and adds to a growing list of injuries among the Glasgow squad.

A Glasgow statement at noon yesterday said that tighthead prop Zander Fagerson and lock Scott Cummings would both be out for “up to eight weeks”, while back-row forward Callum Gibbins will be sidelined for 12 weeks. However, Rennie later explained that he feared Fagerson’s absence would be longer, though he also suggested that Cummings – uncapped but in contention for a place in the Scotland squad – would be back more quickly.

But Brown, understandably, is the biggest concern for the coach. Although his head was only bruised after being stamped on by Edinburgh tighthead prop Simon Berghan in the first 1872 Cup match before Christmas, Brown took a knock in last week’s return game at Scotstoun and was kept off after failing to pass a head-injury assessment. It is the ease with which the hooker is concussed after being hit on the jaw that both worries and baffles Rennie, and although it is conceivable that a specialist could give the hooker the all-clear to resume playing immediately, it is equally plausible that a longer spell on the sidelines will be ordered.




With Edinburgh’s Ross Ford having been out of action since November because of a pectoral injury, the possibility of losing Brown as well will add to Scotland coach Gregor Townsend’s front-row headache. Stuart McInally is the man in possession, and George Turner was an able deputy in the first two Autumn Tests, but Brown’s experience would be invaluable.

We’ve just been really conservative around Fraser,” Rennie explained. “As often happens, he has no symptoms. He’s completed all the protocols, but he’s had two or three head knocks this season already. We just want to find out a bit more about why.

“If he gets a knock on the head he seems OK, but if he gets a knock on the jaw he ends up getting knocked out. He comes back reasonably quickly and we just want to do a bit of research around this. We’re not going to rush him back in until we know a bit more.”

Asked if that meant a visit to a specialist, Rennie continued: “Yes, and even dig a bit deeper. There’s not an enormous amount of science around concussion. We’re talking to other people in other fields about this to try and maybe work out what’s going on.

“The key is not to rush things. If a player has had multiple head knocks you have to be cautious around that. That’s what we’re going to do with Fraser.

“He seems fine, but we have to look at why this is happening. With most players who have symptoms, it takes a while, if they have a number of knocks, to get over it. But Fraser ends up with no symptoms at all and bounces back immediately. We just want to find out what’s happening and we need to take our time with that.”

Asked if there was any timescale for a return, Rennie said: “No, it will be what it is.”

The initial prognosis of eight weeks for Fagerson to recover from his foot injury, meanwhile, left open the slight possibility of a return to Scotland duty for the last two Six Nations games. But Rennie suggested that was unlikely.

“Probably longer,” he said. “It’s the fact it’s his foot, and from a scrummaging viewpoint a lot of load goes through that. The guide is six to eight weeks, but for a front-row player it can be longer.

“He knocked something over and it fell on his foot in the gym. It’s one of those frustrating injuries.”

In contrast, the coach expects Cummings to be back ahead of schedule. “The boys were mauling and he got his finger caught in a jersey. He has a fracture above his knuckle. We’re looking at six to seven weeks, hopefully.”

The good news among all the injuries is a return to action for back-row forward Adam Ashe, who is on the bench after recovering from the ankle injury that has kept him out since October. George Horne and Finn Russell start together at half-back for the first time, Greg Peterson joins Jonny Gray at lock, and Rob Harley captains the team from blindside.

 

Glasgow Warriors (v Zebre in Parma, today [Saturday], 3.30pm GMT); R Jackson; L Jones, H Jones, N Grigg, N Matawalu; F Russell, G Horne; A Allan, P MacArthur, S Halanukonuka, G Peterson, J Gray, R Harley, C Fusaro, M Fagerson. Substitutes: J Malcolm, O Kebble, D Rae, K McDonald, A Ashe, H Pyrgos, P Horne, B Thomson.

 

Zebre: E Padovani; R Parata, G Bisegni, T Castello, G Venditti; C Canna, M Violi; A Lovotti T D’Apice, E Bello, D Sisi, G Biagi, M Mbanda, J Meyer, R Giammarioli.  Substitutes: L Luus, A de Marchi, R Tenga, V Bernabò, D Minnie, G Palazzani, M Azzolini, C Gaffney.

 

FORMER Glasgow full-back Peter Murchie has announced he is to retire from playing with immediate effect. Capped three times by Scotland, Murchie left the Warriors last summer to join Stade Nicois as a player/coach as part of Scottish Rugby’s partnership with the French club.

His decision to hang up his boots comes after he sustained several head injuries in recent seasons. He will now come home and continue to work as a coach in the SRU’s development programmes.

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About Stuart Bathgate 1112 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.