Stuart Hogg is raring to go but Scotland boss Gregor Townsend will not rush his return from injury
- Stuart Hogg is raring to make his return for Scotland against Fiji this weekend
- The full-back will face tests this week but boss Gregor Townsend won’t rush him
- Hogg has been out having had ankle surgery and was not expected to be back
You can’t keep a good man down.
Stuart Hogg, who had been expected to miss all four of Scotland’s November Test matches after ankle surgery, has given head coach Gregor Townsend a massive boost by declaring himself fit for this weekend’s Murrayfield clash with Fiji.
The full-back will face rigorous fitness tests this week but Townsend is keen to get his star man back out on the pitch as soon as possible.
Townsend was due to announce his Scotland team on Wednesday afternoon but will hold off for 24 hours to give Hogg every opportunity to prove he is ready to play for the first time in over two months.
Stuart Hogg is working hard to be fit enough to face Fiji at BT Murrayfield this weekend
The full-back was expected to still be out injured having had ankle surgery in recent months
Boss Gregor Townsend will not rush Hogg back and is delaying naming his team to play Fiji
His potential return could not come at a better time for Scotland, who were toothless in attack in their defeat to Wales in Cardiff.
Townsend will hope Hogg’s X-factor – and the expected return of Finn Russell – will bring a vital cutting edge that was badly missing in the Welsh capital.
The Scotland coaching team have pencilled Hogg in to play against the South Sea Islanders but won’t rush him back if he isn’t ready. With South Africa and Argentina up after that, they know he can play a big part in these matches against even stronger opposition.
Hogg had been expected to be out for between 10 and 12 weeks following ankle surgery but, if he plays against Fiji, will have returned to action after just seven.
Scotland missing a cutting edge against Wales and Hogg would provide his X-Factor moments
Scotland assistant head coach Danny Wilson admitted the player is champing at the bit to return.
‘Stuart still has a few boxes to tick and we have some decisions to make,’ said Wilson.
‘He’s made really good progress. There’s a bit more to make, just to make sure he’s ready to go and I think the next few days will determine that.’ Wilson, asked if it would be a risk to play Hogg against Fiji given he was expected to be out for up to 12 weeks, replied: ‘I don’t think there’s a massive concern about that.
‘He’s made really good progress in his rehabilitation. He’s worked extremely hard in a short space of time and he’s shown me how important it is for him to play for Scotland.
‘He’s desperate to play rugby full stop, desperate to get back out on the pitch and he’s done everything that’s been asked of him. From our point of view it would be great to have him back out there, but we have to make sure we do our due diligence and he does his and we put him out there at the right time when he’s fully fit.
Assistant head coach Danny Wilson revealed Hogg is chomping at the bit to make his return
‘I think he wanted to play Friday night for Glasgow and he wants to play at every opportunity, that’s what I’m learning from him.
‘I’ve only had this small window to get to know Stuart and I think he’s a very good professional as he’s proved over the years.
‘He’s had his bumps and knocks as we know, but I think part of the process is getting him out there and passing running tests and, slowly but surely, getting himself fully fit for contact and the intensity of playing international rugby.
‘At this stage we’re definitely hopeful of him taking part in some part of the Test series, but we have to wait and see how the next three days go. It’s quite an important week ahead. He’s not (taking contact) in this environment as he has just come back today, so as I said there’s a few boxes to tick yet.’
Hogg has been out since September after injuring his ankle playing for Glasgow Warriors against Munster and the 26-year-old was all smiles at the Oriam on Monday as he bids to prove his fitness in training.
Team-mate WP Nel admits his return has boosted the squad after Saturday’s loss in the Doddie Weir Cup. ‘It’s good to have that kind of player back in the squad,’ said the Scotland prop.
Hogg did the damage to his ankle in September playing for Glasgow Warriors against Munster
‘We also have Greig Laidlaw and Finn Russell back training with us after missing the Wales game, and all those boys are good and all are experienced. They bring something different to the team and it is great to have them back.’
Hogg isn’t the only new face in the Scotland squad with five others being called up following the defeat to Wales.
Another notable addition is back-row forward Josh Strauss, who hasn’t been picked since he played in Scotland’s away defeat to Fiji in Suva back in the summer of 2017.
His fellow back row Adam Ashe is also called up after David Denton and Blade Thomson were both ruled out due to concussion.
The Glasgow Warriors pair of second row Scott Cummings and centre Nick Grigg have been included, with James Laing missing out because of a rib injury.. Duncan Weir is called up after some good performances for Worcester Warriors.
With Russell likely to start at ten against Fiji, and Adam Hastings struggling against Wales, there is a strong case to be made to put Weir on the bench against the South Sea Islanders.
Another boost for Scotland is that Finn Russell was back in training at their Edinburgh base
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