Leslie's fitness in doubt for New Zealand tour

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The Independent Online

The Scotland captain, John Leslie, says he has no more than a 50 per cent chance of being fit for his side's summer tour to New Zealand.

Leslie, a Kiwi by birth, is recovering from an operation after rupturing ligaments in his ankle during the World Cup match against South Africa in October.

Despite returning to action briefly in the Six Nations' Championship and turning out twice in the Premiership for Newcastle, Leslie was forced to undergo more treatment that could rule him out for the rest of the season.

Leslie will see a surgeon later this week before consulting the club coach, Rob Andrew, and Ian McGeechan, the national team coach. "It is quite a simple situation as far as the tour goes," said Leslie. "If I am fit I will go, if I am not I won't - and it is very much 50/50 at the moment.

"There is no thought of pulling out just to give myself the summer to recover."

Leslie estimates that it will take six to eight weeks to make a full recovery, taking him perilously close to Scotland's 1 June departure date.

His absence would not only be a huge blow to McGeechan's chances of becoming the first Scottish coach to defeat the All Blacks, it would also be an immense personal disappointment for Leslie, who would be robbed of an eagerly awaited return to his homeland.

But he admits the desire to make his comeback against Italy in February is proving costly now - and he will not be repeating his mistake.

"Maybe I wasn't quite at the right level when I came back," he said. "I focused on being back to face Italy and once I set that target I didn't want to miss it. I will not be doing that again because although I have been fortunate with injuries so far in my career, I don't want this one to last any longer than it has to."

McGeechan met the Scottish selection panel and has drafted a provisional squad, which is expected to be confirmed within the next two weeks.

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