Darcy Graham will be fit to face South Africa at World Cup as Gregor Townsend delivers upbeat fitness bulletin

Captain Jamie Ritchie leads the players around Murrayfield after the win over Georgia, Scotland's final match before the Rugby World Cup in France.  (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

The winger was ruled out on Friday lunchtime and replaced by Kyle Steyn who scored a try in the 33-6 victory at Murrayfield. Scotland had to work hard for the win and trailed 6-0 at half-time but five tries in the second half turned the game in the home side’s favour. Townsend said his team came through the match with nothing more serious than “normal Test match niggles” and was also upbeat about Graham. Scotland are due to leave for the tournament in France next Sunday and will play the Springboks on September 10 in Marseille.

“We’re training this week Tuesday to Thursday, and then the guys are going to have Friday and Saturday off, so we’re aiming for Thursday with Darcy,” said the Scotland coach. “If he’s not able to train Thursday, it will be the following Monday in France. I don’t want to jinx it, but the indications would be that by the end of this week – potentially Thursday – he’ll be back to full fitness, if not it will be the following week.”

Graham suffered what was described as a “mild strain to his quad” in training last week and Townsend revealed that Steyn also picked up a knock during the session but the Glasgow winger came through the Georgia game relatively unscathed along with the rest of the squad.

“There’s a couple of what you might call normal Test match niggles, nothing more serious than that, which is great,” said Townsend. “I’m really pleased that Kyle got through the game because he actually was one that went off injured on Tuesday – along with Darcy – but recovered well enough to train Thursday. He got a whack on his knee, too, but it looks like that’s fine. I’m sure it wasn’t in the front of players’ minds, but they will have seen on Friday night and a couple of injuries in that New Zealand v South Africa game, and a couple of players in the England squad getting injured last week, so it is a tricky fixture. Jamie [Ritchie] cracked his cheekbone the last time we played Georgia, so to get through that with the second half performance and no injuries is a massive positive.”

Both captain and coach felt Scotland tried to rush things during a frustrating first half in which the home side struggled to break down the Georgians. Steyn thought he had scored in the 36th minute but the try was chalked off by the TMO because the player had failed to ground the ball properly and the only points in the first half came from two Luka Matkava penalties for the visitors.

“Jamie’s point about rushing things in the first half was a good one because we had plenty chances and we were playing at width and pace but a couple of times we rushed the final pass or didn't get to the breakdown quickly enough,” said Townsend. “But I believe it was probably better for us going six points down because it meant we had to improve certain areas, our fitness would have to come through and it did, and our bench, who must have guessed that they would have an early introduction, did really well too. We know also that playing against South Africa is a different game, but [Georgia] didn’t score a try so that was a pleasing aspect too – but we’re still working for that performance that we can be happy with over the 80 minutes. It is never going to be the complete performance, because the opposition are going to have their moments.”