Watson, Fagerson sidelined

Blow as injured Scots pair ruled out of Lions clash

Out: Hamish Watson (pic: SNS Group).

Scotland stars Hamish Watson and Zander Fagerson have been ruled out of the British & Irish Lions team to face Japan at Murrayfield on Saturday due to injury.

Edinburgh flanker Watson suffered a head injury in training on Tuesday, while Fagerson is struggling after a back spasm prevented him from training today.

Ireland’s Tadhg Furlong replaces the Glasgow Warriors prop, while Wales flanker Justin Tipuric will step in for Watson, who begins the graduated return-to-play protocol after the concussion.

The Lions take on Japan as they prepare for their eight-match tour of South Africa, during which time they will face the world champion Springboks in three Tests.

“It’s a shame for Zander not to be able to run out at Murrayfield as a Lion, but he’s not quite one hundred per cent,” said head coach Warren Gatland, whose squad flies out to South Africa on Sunday.

“He’ll get a chance to start in the next two games and stake a claim for a test spot in South Africa, so it’s not worth the risk.”

Gatland had named four Scots in his original starting line-up, with Duhan van der Merwe and Rory Sutherland getting the nod, with Ali Price named among the repalcements.

Murrayfield will host 16,500 fans for Saturday’s fixture, although the Lions’ matches in South Africa will be played behind closed doors due to the effects of the pandemic.

During the tour, both teams will have their contact with the community limited by staying in biosecure bubbles throughout.

There had been considerations given to moving the tour to the UK or Australia before the decision was taken to go ahead as planned but without spectators.

British and Irish Lions: Williams; Adams, Henshaw, Aki, Van der Merwe; Biggar, Murray; Sutherland, Owens, Furlong, Henderson, AW Jones (c), Beirne, Tipuric, Conan. Replacements: George, W Jones, Sinckler, Lawes, Faletau, Price, Farrell, A Watson.

Advice: Lewis Carmichael (pic: SNS Group).

Carmichael retires at 26

Scotland international Lewis Carmichael has announced his retirement at the age of 26 on medical grounds.

The Edinburgh second row has been forced to hang up his boots after suffering “a number of concussions over a short period of time.”

Carmichael won two caps for his country. He scored a try off the bench on his debut against Canada on the 2018 tour before making his first start against the USA in Houston a week later.

“I’m obviously gutted I’ll no longer be playing professional rugby,” said Carmichael, who made 47 appearances in five years with Edinburgh.

“But I know it’s the right decision having discussed my situation with a number of specialists and the medical teams at both Edinburgh Rugby and Scottish Rugby.

“I’ve taken the decision to retire following advice from my medical advisers having sustained a number of concussions over a short period of time.”

Head coach Richard Cockerill said: “As a club, we’re obviously gutted for Lewis. It’s never easy to see any player step away from the game at a young age.

“He’s a good man, and a player that has given a lot to Edinburgh Rugby over the years. He’ll be sorely missed by the coaching staff and squad, and we wish him all the very best.”

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