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Beattie concern for Scotland

Scotland's injury-ravaged tour of South Africa is in danger of running into even more trouble after number eight Johnnie Beattie was unable to take part in the final training session before Saturday's clash with Italy in Pretoria.

Interim head coach Scott Johnson reckons Beattie has no better than a 50-50 chance of making the game after sustaining a thigh injury in training, although he will give the 27-year-old as long as possible to make the match.

If Beattie does fail to make the side, Rob Harley, who joined the squad earlier this week, will start at flanker with David Denton moving to number eight. The real problem, however, is that Scotland have run out of back rows and would have no cover on the bench for a unit where they have lost players to serious injuries in both the earlier matches on tour.

"We have no-one else," Johnson said. "We would probably have to put Fraser Brown (the bench hooker) in as the reserve cover and bring in Stevie Lawrie (as additional cover at hooker). It is all I have got really, we will have to do what we have to do.

"We will see how Beattie pulls up in the morning. He is a tough lad. His rugby is surprisingly tough, you talk about some of his skills but he is resilient and has played injured before.

"Last week he was wounded with a bad wing but I thought he tackled superbly.

"He has the ability to put it out of his head, so we will go late with it - one, because we have no choice and, two, because he has the character to carry it."

After a tour where Scotland lost two of their original selection before leaving the UK and have seen another five go home injured, it is the kind of late problem Johnson could have done without as the team try to turn their encouraging performance against South Africa last time out into victory this time round.

Part of the issue is that while Italy, Scotland's final opponents in the third-fourth place play-off match of the South African Incoming Series, base a lot of their play round their impressive back row led by Sergio Parisse, Scotland were struggling anyway.

None of the specialist openside flankers made the start of the tour, and the two players pressed into service in the role in the two opening fixtures have both picked up serious injuries and gone home, making Alasdair Strokosch, the latest to wear the number seven jersey, the sixth choice at best.


From Belfast Telegraph