Scotland face front row crisis ahead of Springboks showdown
Last Updated: 10/06/13 7:20pm
Geoff Cross: Out of Scotland tour
Scotland have a front row crisis only days before they face the full might of the South Africa scrum after tighthead Geoff Cross was ruled out of their summer tour.
Cross became the second front row man to fly home, a day after Pat MacArthur, leaving the Scots with the bare minimum - two fit hookers and four props - ahead of their daunting showdown with the Springboks.
Worse still, there is still an injury doubt over Euan Murray, the other tighthead in the squad, who came off during last Saturday's defeat to Samoa with a hamstring problem.
The Scots are gambling on all their front row men avoiding injury this week and they have put back naming their side from Tuesday to Thursday.
"We came out with the big intention of broadening our base and will now have to broaden it sooner than we thought," said Jonathan Humphreys, the forwards coach.
"We are going to know a lot more about their fitness levels on Tuesday. We had a recovery day today, then we will have assessments Tuesday morning and will pick the side according to who is left."
Cross almost dislocated his shoulder during the defeat to Samoa on Saturday but bravely played through pain after coming off the bench to replace Murray.
The only piece of good fortune is that Scotland is that Jon Welsh - who has just arrived as a replacement for Lions-bound Ryan Grant - can play on both sides of the scrum.
"I've been keeping myself ticking over," he said. "I was just counting down the days to pre-season starting and so mentally I'm up for playing. When an opportunity like this arises you just want to go out and give it your all, and hopefully that happens this weekend. It would be a massive opportunity. It's great to be called out to a place like South Africa to represent your country.
"South Africa being one of the best scrummaging teams in the world means it will be a tough test but something I would relish."
Welsh is hoping he gets a chance to take on the power of Tendai "The Beast" Mtawarira.
"If you want to get to the top you need to play the best. It will be a massive challenge, but one I hope to get," he said.
"He doesn't hold any fears. To get to international level you have obviously had to hone your craft at club level against talented players, which I've done, so I've got no fears of anyone."