Season on sidelines for Pettie after horror injury

30/03/2013,  TSPL, Scotland on Sunday, Sport, Rugby, RBS Cup Semi Final,  Gala v Melrose, Netherdale, Galashiels. Gala prop Luke Pettie tackles Melrose winger Lewis Mallin. Picture Ian Rutherford

30/03/2013, TSPL, Scotland on Sunday, Sport, Rugby, RBS Cup Semi Final, Gala v Melrose, Netherdale, Galashiels. Gala prop Luke Pettie tackles Melrose winger Lewis Mallin. Picture Ian Rutherford

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Gala coach George Graham has described the loss of prop Luke Pettie for the rest of the season as a massive blow to the Netherdale club.

The 23-year-old shattered his leg below the knee in last weekend’s 31-14 win over Currie, and faces months of recovery.

But Graham expects his front row to be boosted by the return of a familiar face in the coming weeks.

He told The Southern: “Luke suffered a nasty fracture and we have been told he won’t even be able to stand on it for three months. It is a huge blow for him and a massive blow for the club because he is a quality player.

“I would be very surprised if he was back before the end of the season.

“However, Ewan McQuillin should be available next weekend (Aberdeen) as one of Edinburgh’s draft players.”

Gala also have injury doubts over Opeta Palepoi (groin) and Rory Sutherland (hip) for this Saturday’s match at Heriots.

Graham added: “I believe we have not lost to Heriots since we got back in the top flight and obviously we want to continue that trend.”

Melrose are awaiting the results of an IRB hearing scheduled for this week after Sam Chalmers was alleged to have tested positive in a drugs test while with Scotland under-20s last season.

Director of rugby Mike Dalgetty refused to comment on the case involving the son the club’s former coach Craig, and said the squad was fully focused on their trip to Premiership champions Ayr.

Dalgetty told us: “It is a good time to go to Ayr and the players are showing a great attitude in training.”

Hawick also travel west to face Glasgow Hawks, while in the National League, Kelso go to Biggar, Peebles host GHA and Selkirk are at home to much-fancied Watsonians.

Meanwhile, Langholm are believed to be the first club in Scotland to appoint a woman head coach.

Ally Little takes temporary charge of the side in their season opener at Hawick Harlequins in the Borders Regional Shield this Saturday.

“I see this as a great opportunity to help the current squad develop their own skills, while also continuing to develop my own coaching skills,” she said.