JONNY GRAY’s chances of playing in this Autumn’s World Cup have been described as “doubtful” by Exeter Chiefs Director of Rugby Rob Baxter after the second-row suffered a dislocated knee-cap playing for the club in Sunday’s 47-28 Champions Cup semi-final defeat to La Rochelle.
“It’s relatively serious without being the worst it could be,” said Baxter in a press briefing earlier today [Wednesday]. “From what I’ve been told, unless the operation goes exceptionally well and his recovery is exceptionally quick, I would say he is very doubtful for the World Cup.
“It’s a patella tendon injury; he’s dislocated his kneecap. Fortunately, the other major ligaments within the knee are all stable.
“It’s a relatively complex patella tendon injury, which is going to require surgery this week, and there’s a relatively long period of rehab.’
“We are hopeful to have him back fairly early next season, especially with the Premiership starting late next year with the World Cup first.”
Scotland’s World Cup campaign kicks-off against reigning champions South Africa on 10th September (in just over four months’ time), with their four warm-up matches against Italy, France (twice) and Georgia being played between 29th July and 26th August.
While Gray has been a regular fixture in the match-day squad, when fit, since his international debut back in November 2013, the 77-times capped 29-year-old has not recently been a guaranteed starter in the way he has been for most of the last decade, with older brother Richie returning from the international wilderness to partner Grant Gilchrist in the engine-room during the most recent Six Nations. Meanwhile, fit-again Scott Cummings is arguably the next cab off the rank, just ahead of Sam Skinner.
Other second-row contenders to make the World Cup squad are Glen Young (Edinburgh) and Cameron Henderson (Leicester Tigers).