THE gloss of Scotland’s hard-fought victory over Wales on Saturday has been heavily scuffed by news that both Finn Russell and Adam Hastings – the two leading stand-offs in the squad – are facing lengthy lay-offs due to injuries picked up during that 10-14 victory at Parc y Scarlets.

Neither player will take part in the four-week Nations Cup campaign which kicks off a week on Saturday with an away match in Italy, and Hastings is also set to miss most, if not all, of Scotland Six Nations campaign in the New Year.

“Finn has a groin abductor tear,” explained Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend. “He doesn’t require surgery following scans and meeting with his doctor as well as our doctors. We are aiming for around two months – it could be a couple of weeks later, it could be a couple of weeks earlier. Two months is the target they have discussed. He will be back at Racing later today.

“With Adam, we were obviously hoping that the damage on his shoulder would not require an operation. He was feeling good after the game but there is sufficient damage in there that surgery is required. He will get that as soon as possible and be out for four months following that.”

Townsend added that it is impossible to retrospectively say whether it was a mistake to let Hastings to play on until 10 minutes to go following an initial injury on his shoulder early in the second half.

“Who knows?” he replied. “It had gone out and gone back in quite quickly. He continued and was in no pain and did really well after that. If a player was in pain or felt he could not do his role he would have come off. He carried on and it was one of these unfortunate things.

“He must have landed on a sensitive area or an area that made it come lose again. Maybe there were some underlying issues there and it came out and now we have to make sure it gets fixed so the rest of his career he is not in a place to re-injure that shoulder.

“It is a blow for both players, a blow for us to lose both of them in the same position. They have not had many injuries in their career. In our sport, you tend to get an injury every couple of years, so let’s hope that they get through rehab really quickly and come back stronger and still have rugby to play this year.”

With no replacement stand-offs being brought into the squad at this stage, Duncan Weir of Worcester Warriors is set to be chief beneficiary of this double-injury set-back. The 29-year-old has been capped 28-times since his Scotland debut back in 2012, but only once since Townsend became head coach in the summer of 2017, as a late replacement against France earlier this year. He has been a member of the extended training squad throughout the Autumn so far.

“Duncy is playing the best rugby of his career,” said Townsend. “I have worked with him for a long time and it has been really encouraging to see how well he has played pre and post-lockdown. There is a calmness about the way he plays.

“The way they play at Worcester is not dissimilar to what we want to do moving the ball. He has really improved in that area. He has been excellent running the opposition plays in the past couple of weeks. There were a couple of line breaks last week and he still has that very good all-round kicking ability.”

Townsend also pointed out that Edinburgh’s South African-born stand-off Jaco van der Walt becomes eligible to play for Scotland through the three-year residency rule after the Italy game but before round two of the Nations Cup against France.

However, there is a complicating factor here because van der Walt is currently back in South Africa getting married and will have to go through a quarantining process before he is able to get involbed.

“It’ll be tight,” conceded Townsend. “He comes back on November 9 so we’ll just see what the quarantine will have to be, whether he misses our training, or whether things change because he is able to get tested here.

“We were aware that was going to be happening and he’s not available for the Italian game anyway, but as soon as we can involve him in our training that should coincide with whether it is the France game for the Fiji game the following week.”

James Lang, who has played at inside centre in Scotland’s two matches so far this Autumn, will provide principal back-up at stand-off. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne has also been added to the squad.