Six Nations: Scotland prop WP Nel ruled out through injury

WP Nel
WP Nel was injured playing for Edinburgh against Harlequins

Scotland prop WP Nel has been ruled out of the Six Nations campaign because of a neck injury.

Nel, 30, had been included in head coach Vern Cotter's 37-man squad for the upcoming championship.

However, a scan revealed that the Edinburgh tight-head damaged an intervertebral disc in his neck during a Challenge Cup tie against Harlequins.

The Scots open their campaign at home to Ireland on 4 February before travelling to France eight days later.

Nel, who has won 15 caps, will be assessed to decide whether he requires corrective surgery, Scottish Rugby said.

This year's championship will be head coach Vern Cotter's last in charge of the national side before he takes charge of Montpellier.

Last year, Scotland finished fourth in the championship after victories against Italy and France.

In November's autumn Tests, the Scots beat Argentina and Georgia after a narrow defeat by Australia.

South Africa-born Nel joined Edinburgh in 2012 and qualifies to play for Scotland on residency rules.

French Top 14 sides Toulon and Clermont Auvergne are reportedly interested in signing him, though Edinburgh say they have had "positive conversations" about keeping him in the Scottish capital.

SNS
WP Nel helped Scotland to a 26-13 win over Japan at the Toyota stadium last June

Analysis

BBC Scotland's Tom English

This is devastating news. Vern Cotter hinted that all was far from well with Nel earlier in the week, but the confirmation that he is now out injured again after less than half an hour of his comeback game is cruel on the player and cruel on Scotland too.

Nel is a world-class tight-head and was, until this latest injury, one of Scotland's very few guaranteed Lions for the summer tour to New Zealand. With so much uncertainty around a serious neck problem - particularly serious for a prop forward - you have to consider him a major doubt for the Lions. For Nel, it's a catastrophe on two different fronts.

Scotland played well in the autumn without him, but there's no question that they are a better team when he's around. He brings experience and solidity to the scrum and carries hard in the loose. Hopefully his recovery will go well. He'll be a big miss.

Scotland squad:

Forwards: Alex Allan, Zander Fagerson, Gordon Reid (all Glasgow Warriors), Simon Berghan, Allan Dell, Jon Welsh (Newcastle Falcons), Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Ross Ford, Stuart McInally (both Edinburgh Rugby), Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Richie Gray (Toulouse), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby), Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh Rugby), John Barclay (Scarlets), Cornell Du Preez, John Hardie, Hamish Watson (all Edinburgh Rugby), Rob Harley, Josh Strauss, Ryan Wilson (all Glasgow Warriors)

Backs: Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester), Ali Price, Henry Pyrgos, Finn Russell (all Glasgow Warriors), Duncan Weir (Edinburgh Rugby), Mark Bennett, Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors), Huw Jones (Stormers), Matt Scott (Gloucester), Duncan Taylor (Saracens), Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors), Damien Hoyland (Edinburgh Rugby), Sean Maitland (Saracens), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors), Tim Visser (Harlequins)

Scotland's Six Nations (times GMT)

4 February - Scotland v Ireland (14:25)

12 February - France v Scotland (15:00)

25 February - Scotland v Wales (14:25)

11 March - England v Scotland (16:00)

18 March - Scotland v Italy (12:30)

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