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Joe Helps fracture hinders Melrose

Champions Melrose have been dealt a blow two weeks before the start of the BT Premiership with the loss of centre Joe Helps.

The hard-running midfielder and goal kicker fractured his lower arm on Saturday in Melrose's 46-30 Border League win over Selkirk at Philiphaugh and will be out for at least eight weeks.

Helps made the No.12 jersey his own in the past two seasons, cementing his position by being able to kick goals from inside the opposition half.

"We can't hide behind how much of a miss Joe will be. Austin Lockington, Murdo McAndrew and Richard Mill can all kick goals but none can pop them over from 51 metres," said John Dalziel, the Melrose coach.

Top of the replacement list could be the Taylor brothers, Richard and George, both of whom have played for Scotland under-18 at centre.

Younger brother George impressed against Selkirk and has a chance to further his career this week when he travels to Romania with Scotland under-19s. However, he has another year at Loretto, where he is on a scholarship, and it is likely that the Musselburgh school would insist on him playing in their colours.

Elder brother Richard suffered concussion last season and requires a positive result from a scan before he will be considered. Also staking a claim is outside-back Rory Tolland, who returned to rugby after knee reconstruction surgery and who looked the part against Selkirk. "We're trying to get him integrated. He's in brilliant condition," said Dalziel, while adding that Andrew Nagle could be another option.

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