GEORGE Turner is the type of man who isn’t afraid to put his head in where it hurts. Even if the Glasgow Warriors hooker had his season shut down in late March after he suffered consecutive concussions.

When the 26-year-old climbed onto the Allianz Rivera pitch in Nice in relief of captain Stuart McInally with 14 minutes remaining on Saturday, Scotland were already staring at a 32-3 deficit. His first match of any sort since succumbing a head knock for Glasgow Warriors against Zebre on March 29, at least Turner helped stop any further bloodletting.

"It's obviously a bit of a stressful time for the players, especially after a performance like that,” said Turner, one of four hookers still in contention for Gregor Townsend’s 31-man squad, alongside McInally, Grant Stewart and the currently injured Fraser Brown.

“If you play like that you've got to have the feedback and take it on the chin,” he added. “Try and get back in. Some players now may not get another chance and they'll have to deal with that.


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Somewhat surprisingly for a hooker, Turner has a hat-trick of tries to his name for Scotland, in a summer Test against Canada. But injury has often come along at precisely the wrong time for him.

“I got concussed against Zebre in March,” recalled the 26-year-old. “After a few weeks I was fully training again but not allowed to do contact. I was over the symptoms but I had a few concussions over the year and a specialist gave me advice when to come back. I was told not to play before the end of the season.

“It was frustrating to be out because it was during the Six nations again. I had been injured the week before the Six Nations the last time too. In those last few games of the season there were some big games that I missed with Glasgow getting to the pro14 final and there were a couple of European games I missed that I wanted to play in too. I was doing non 23 training every week and it was dragging on, even if Non 23 especially at Glasgow worked hard and pushed the team on.

“Do I have any second thoughts of putting my head back in these days? No, pretty much. At all games at international level you have to be up there pushing them back. A scrum cap helps.

“I haven’t played many Scotland games and missed chances. But I love playing rugby and I love playing rugby for Scotland. Making it to the World Cup would be amazing. Hopefully I will go.”

While the Scotland scrum was second best on an awkward playing surface, it doesn’t get any easier for the front row, with Guilhem Guarado likely to be recalled for BT Murrayfield on Saturday. As much as Turner prides himself on his physicality, there was a reminder of the brutal nature of modern rugby when French lock Paul Gabrillagues escaped unpunished despite giving John Barclay a Glasgow kiss as he cleared him out illegally from a ruck – even if he has subsequently been cited for the action.


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“That wasn’t really the dark arts - that was a red card,” said Turner. “It should have been picked up. There are ways to be physically legally but there is no room for that anymore.”

Turner is keen that Scotland give a better account of themselves on Saturday. "It was a tough one to take," he said. "We've reviewed and looked at it obviously. Not the best start but there's a lot of learnings to take from it.

"For me, defending is a big thing. I relish it. Away from home, you want to shut up the crowd, it feeds you. Towards the end the defence did pick up, the boys were like 'we've let in a few tries, we've got to step it up'.

"The positive is we finished better, they looked like scoring more but didn't. It was good to finish strong though. I just wanted to get stuck in, I hadn't played for a while, missed the last few months of the season so I just wanted to get on and play again."