Scotland have suffered a blow with wing Darcy Graham being ruled out of the opening two matches of the Six Nations Championship, with uncapped Arron Reed now in line for a place in Scotland’s squad against Wales.
Graham and Duhan van der Merwe are stick-ons for the Scotland wing berths when fit, but head coach Gregor Townsend revealed in his 39-man squad selected last week for the tournament that he was concerned about depth of strength behind the top try-scoring pair. Graham was coming back well from a hip injury suffered in Scotland’s defeat to Ireland in the World Cup, but suffered a quad injury in Edinburgh’s recent European Challenge Cup defeat to Gloucester.
He is out for at least three weeks, but, after missing last year’s Six Nations with a serious knee injury, is still hopeful of returning later in the championship.
With full-back Ollie Smith also injured, Townsend last week called in Edinburgh youngster Harry Paterson and Sale wing Reed as uncapped newcomers to the Scotland ranks. He also has Kyle Steyn and Kyle Rowe seemingly ahead of Reed in the pecking order for wing spots, and has now added Ross McCann, a 26-year-old Scotland and GB sevens player, who has played for Edinburgh.
Many imagined the uncapped call-ups were there to gain experience, with an eye on the future, but while Van Der Merwe and Steyn are now the expected wing choices, Reed may find himself thrust into the squad aiming for a first win over Wales in Cardiff in 22 years.
The 24-year-old is similar in stature to Graham, and his pace and ability to beat players on either side at Sale has been similar to the Edinburgh man’s style. Reed was born in Chester and came through the Sale academy system, going on to play for England at under-18 and under-20 level – the latter including scoring against Scotland in the 2019 under-20s Six Nations.
He credits his Scottish father Allan, a keen flanker, for persuading him to switch football for rugby, however, followers of Scottish rugby might remember his uncle, Steven, who was a pacy centre/wing with Boroughmuir in the 1990s and Edinburgh at the time rugby turned professional. He also played for Bath, but focused more on his career as a police officer before becoming a defence lawyer. Arron’s Scottish grandmother Christine also comes from a rugby background, having grown up in the Borders, and the success of Townsend’s persuasion of Reed to follow his Scottish roots may prove very timely for the Sale flyer.