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Fitness boost for Scotland as star forward set to return to action

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Scotland would have no concerns about throwing star openside flanker Rory Darge into their crucial Round Two Six Nations Test against France at Murrayfield on Saturday.

That was the word from their defence coach, Steve Tandy, who revealed that the Glasgow Warriors tearaway is close to full fitness after sustaining a knee in a club game against Edinburgh on December 30 and has not been in action since.

It was initially said that Darge was doubtful for the entire Six Nations but he has recovered quicker than expected and should be ready for the Scots’ next match against Les Bleus.

Double injury setback

The 23-year-old’s possible return would be a timely shot in the arm for Scotland after fellow flanker Luke Crosbie and experienced lock Richie Gray were ruled out for the rest of the Championship due to shoulder and bicep injuries respectively.

“Dargey’s trained and he’s looking good,” said Tandy. “He came through training last week, he trained again today, so all being well in the rest of the training week he’ll be available.”

When asked if he think Darge could make his return via Scotland’s starting line-up, despite being sidelined for almost a month and a half, Tandy said: “Definitely. He’s done it before, after injuries.

“Knowing Rory and the guy he is, how diligent he is and how he looks at and studies the game, we have no doubts. Physically, it feels like he’s adding layer on layer as he gets a little bit older.

“He’s physically ready and even when they are injured, the boys are still lifting (weights) – it’s not as if they’re sitting there doing nothing. They’re active in and around what the strength and conditioning guys and the medical team want.”

Tandy bemoaned losing he services of Crosbie and Gray after the pair sustained Championship-ending injuries during their 27-26 triumph against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.

“First and foremost, with the characters they are, they’re awesome individuals,” said the coach. “Richie brings lots of experience around the group and he’s got better with age.

“He’s great to work with and you see the energy and clarity he brings to the group. He will be sorely missed.

“Luke has fought so hard to get to the international scene. You see the warrior he is on the field, but there is also the character he is and how he leads in the training environment, how he speaks in meetings.

“We’ve got a great squad though. If you look at the back-rowers, there are loads of form players so we’re lucky enough to have an abundance in those positions.

“If someone misses out, everyone else is ready to step into the shirt.”

Tandy admitted there were “lots of learnings” for Scotland after they nearly squandered a comfortable 27-0 lead against their hosts.

Plenty of positives

Despite that, he also believes there were plenty of positives from Scotland’s first victory in the Welsh capital in 22 years, ahead of back-to-back home Tests against France and England.

“It’s important not to get too far ahead,” said Tandy. “We’ve had a really good result, going to Wales and getting that job done, but now it’s just about focusing on France.

“Coming back to Murrayfield is massive. We’ve got to improve bits of our game and continue lots of the stuff we did in the first half and at the back end of the Wales game.”

READ MORE: Ex-Ireland fly-half believes ‘fragile’ Scotland are ‘getting ahead of themselves’

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