WHEN Glasgow head coach Franco Smith said in the immediate aftermath of the recent 1872 Cup derby loss to Edinburgh at Murrayfield that he was “heartbroken” for Rory Darge, you didn’t need to be a doctor to surmise that the openside was set for another lengthy injury lay-off.
Instead, there was a far more positive update delivered today by Warriors’ attack coach, Nigel Carolan, who expects Darge to be out for “weeks rather than months” after what was initially feared to be a knee ligament tear has turned out to be only a strain.
Darge won’t feature for Warriors in their remaining Champions Cup matches away to Exeter Chiefs this weekend or at home to Toulon the following Friday but Carolan believes the back-rower should be available for selection when Scotland open their Six Nations campaign away to Wales on February 3rd.
That will come as welcome news to Gregor Townsend as the head coach prepares to name his squad for that tournament next week.
Carolan said: “It was a pretty nasty-looking injury at the time and we feared the worst but thankfully all the tests have come back really positive, so it’s only a matter of weeks as opposed to a matter of months as first feared. He’s certainly one we’re in a more positive mindset about.
“It’s only a mild strain on his MCL. Thankfully it’s not as bad as first feared. He will miss this week, possibly next week, but from the following week on, he will be close to a return.”
There was also good news on fellow back-rowers Jack Dempsey and Matt Fagerson, as well as winger Kyle Steyn, who are all on the way back and could feature for Glasgow either this weekend or next – again putting them in contention to play for Scotland if required.
Carolan added: “Jack had a bang on the head and surgery on his skull. Kyle Steyn had syndesmosis after the Connacht game – another nasty injury and Matt Fagerson had an eye fracture.
“You can’t speed some of these things up with fractures. Bones need time to heal. But they have all worked really hard and been extremely diligent in their rehab.
“With Jack, this week might be a bit early, but definitely next week he will be back in the picture for selection. They will all be back for Scotland and possibly for us before that.
“They know the Six Nations is just around the corner as well, which is a massive incentive. They probably feel that if they can get any exposure to game-time prior to the Six Nations, it is going to help them with selection and performance in that period.”
Jame Dobie is also edging closer to a comeback although Sebastian Cancelliere remains out with a neck injury.
Carolan explained: “Jamie’s back training today as well. He’s a bit off selection but he did units with the backs today and he’s had some minor involvement so he’s only a matter of weeks from playing.
“The timing of his return probably doesn’t suit in terms of Scotland selection but hopefully by mid-Six Nations he’ll have a couple of games under his belt with us.
“Seb is getting a little bit closer but he’s still a few weeks away.”
With Ollie Smith out for the rest of the season, Scotland are limited in their options at full-back. But Carolan backed either Kyle Rowe or Huw Jones to provide back-up to Blair Kinghorn if required.
He added: “Kyle has been a real dark horse for us. I saw his quality as a younger kid and the couple of games he had for London Irish prior to him coming back but he’s been superb.
“He’s a well-rounded player, he’s nice and cool and calm, he’s got a good skillset, he’s got a kicking game, and is good under the high ball. He has qualities that suggest he could fill in at full-back.
“Blair Kinghorn is probably the first choice but Huw or Kyle could definitely do a job there.”
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