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Jonny Gray ruled out of Six Nations but Russell backed to make Scotland return | Sport


Scotland’s Six Nations campaign has been dealt another blow after Jonny Gray was ruled out for the remainder of the tournament.

Gray sustained a hand injury during the Calcutta Cup defeat by England on Saturday and the Scottish Rugby Union confirmed he would return to his club, Glasgow, for “ongoing care and assessment”.

The influential 25-year-old won his 57th cap during Scotland’s 13-6 defeat at Murrayfield.

Scotland have also been without the injured winger Darcy Graham and the fly-half Finn Russell – following a breach of team protocols – for the frustrating defeats against Ireland and England.

Gregor Townsend’s team face Italy in Rome in their next match on 22 February.

Sean Maitland, meanwhile, believes Russell will be welcomed back into the Scotland fold – if he can find a way to work out his differences with Townsend. The fly-half as cast his international future into serious doubt after revealing a worrying breakdown in relations with his head coach.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Russell appeared to issue a “him or me” ultimatum. “The current situation, set-up and environment, I don’t think I want to play in that,” the 27-year-old said. “Until I see or feel the big changes that I need to get back to playing my best, it’s going to be very hard for me to do it.”

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The fallout exploded into public view before the Six Nations opener with Ireland when Russell was stood down from action after he missed training on the back of a late-night drinking session. Russell disputes the reasons for the row, insisting they run much deeper than a “couple of beers” at the team hotel. But it has been reported that several members of Townsend’s squad have been angered by his behaviour.

However, Maitland – who travelled north from London on the same flight as Russell on the day of the alleged drinking session – believes most will be willing to forgive and forget.

Asked if he wanted to see Russell back in a Scotland kit again, the wing replied: “Of course. I’ve played a lot of rugby with Finn. Hopefully whatever is going on, it can just get sorted and get him back in, fighting to play for this jersey.

“As of now I don’t know what’s going on but hopefully we’ve now got a bit of time for whoever’s got to work things out with whoever and get it sorted out. I just want him back. The whole squad will probably agree with me there. Yeah, of course [I think he’ll be welcomed back]. He’s a quality player. Hopefully it will just get sorted out.”

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