WP Nel’s announcement that he will retire at the end of the season has brought into sharp focus the lack of quality Scottish tighthead props. 

Without the Edinburgh stalwart, competition for Zander Fagerson’s starting jersey will be as deep as a puddle which is a major concern.

Whoever becomes the next performance director of Scottish rugby - Scotland Rugby News revealed Glasgow Warriors managing director Al Kellock and Tabai Matson of Harlequins are among those on the shortlist to replace Jim Mallinder -needs to make solving the tighthead crisis one of his top priorities.

READ MORE: Al Kellock in the running to be Scottish Rugby performance director

He won’t be able to conjure one up out of thin air but finding another overseas player with Scottish links, regardless how unpalatable that sounds, has to be looked at. Fast-tracking young Scottish-based tightheads and giving them all the support they need also has to be a matter of prime concern.

British and Irish Lion Fagerson, a son of Kirriemuir like Peter Pan author J M Barrie, can’t stay young all the time like the fictional character.

He is already 28 years old and needs regular breaks from playing not just from his club Glasgow Warriors but from Scotland. 

Scotland Rugby News: Zander Fagerson is one of Scotland's key playersZander Fagerson is one of Scotland's key players (Image: SNS)

Whether he gets time off at international level remains to be seen as without South African Nel, 37, who qualified through residency in 2015 and has been representing his adopted country ever since, there aren’t many good options available to Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend.

Tighthead Javan Sebastian was brought north to Edinburgh by Scottish Rugby last year to try and ensure he got more game time than he was getting at Scarlets with a view to him challenging Fagerson for his Scotland starting jersey.

The Welsh club didn’t mourn his transfer and although he has played reasonably well he is 29, two years older than Fagerson, so isn’t one for the future.

Neither is Elliot Millar-Mills who made his Scotland debut in the last Six Nations at the age of 31. Will Hurd of Leicester Tigers is uncapped but at least he is just 24. 

The Scotland head coach is well aware of the lack of quality options at tighthead which is why he has been trying to tempt dual-qualified Welsh prop Rhys Litterick, 25, of Cardiff to play for Scotland.

As someone who watched great Scotland tightheads such as Iain 'The Bear’ Milne in the 1984 Grand Slam era, the massively under-rated Paul Burnell from the 1990 Grand Slam side as well as Euan Murray - the best Scotland tighthead of this century- it is sad to see the lack of quality number threes apart from Fagerson around the current Scottish game.

Scotland Rugby News: Euan Murray toured with the British and Irish Lions in 2009Euan Murray toured with the British and Irish Lions in 2009 (Image: SNS)

The only light on the horizon appears to be at age-grade level with great things expected from Ollie Blyth-Lafferty but as he is still a teenager let us cut him some slack.

He was too young at 17 to be part of this year’s Scotland under-20 Six Nations squad-World Rugby rules say you have to be at least 18 for safety reasons - but he has huge potential.

READ MORE: Ollie Blyth-Lafferty Scotland absence explained by Scotland U20 boss

A product of Boroughmuir RFC he is part of the Edinburgh Rugby academy and is one for the future. So is Callum Norrie who started for the Scotland under-20s in the Six Nations due to Blyth-Lafferty’s enforced absence.

The duo won’t be ready to make the step up to the top level for a few years yet but in the meantime Townsend has to make do with what he has at tighthead, which isn’t a lot.