Richie Gray made the decision to opt out of World Cup selection with Scotland, according to assistant coach Danny Wilson.
The 29-year-old Toulouse lock was a surprise omission when Gregor Townsend named his 44-man training squad in May while eyebrows were raised again on Tuesday as Glasgow second-rower Tim Swinson was drafted in ahead of Gray to provide training cover after Sam Skinner was ruled out of next month’s tournament.
Gray has not featured for the Scots since a clash with Italy in Rome 18 months ago, with back and hip injuries ruling him out for much of that period. However, the former British and Irish Lion did recover from surgery on his most recent injury to help his club side lift the Top 14 title and there have been calls for him to be handed a recall on the back of two ropey line-out displays from the Scottish pack against France this month.
But Wilson confirmed the decision not to travel to Japan was not made by Townsend but instead by Gray — who has had to juggle the birth of his son Ostin with his fitness battles in recent months.
Wilson said: “Gregor has been in constant conversation with Richie. But due to family reasons and perhaps returning from injury and fitness he has decided that he could not commit to the World Cup.”