Press Pass: Blair on Scarlets and Scotland stars
Get the latest from Head Coach Mike Blair ahead of Saturday’s return to BKT URC action against Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets (18 February, kick-off 5.15pm).
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On Scotland players returning to the squad
“We had Hamish training with us, and we had Dave Cherry and Sam Skinner training with us, so we’ll make a call on their involvement as we go through the week.
“But it’s great to have them back. They’ve come with a real energy. It can be difficult psychologically sometimes, going from one camp to another and back in, but all three of them arrived with their chests out, smiles on faces, lots of enthusiasm and ready to go.
“There’s a nice dynamic to the group at the moment.”
On Hamish Watson’s game time
“It’s absolutely our call. He had a huge involvement against the Sharks, playing 80 minutes having been out for three months. He looked one of the fittest players on the pitch, which is excellent – carried the ball a huge amount.
“He’s been away with Scotland, and with Scotland the intensity and standard of training is high, so he’ll have got a lot out of that as well. And he’s keen to get some minutes under the belt.”
On Darcy Graham
“He’s still a while away. So we’re just waiting. Because he’s with us and Scotland, we’ve left those comms mainly up to Scotland on that.
“But he’s with us, he’s on his way back. My understanding of it is really that Scotland will probably have first pick at him if he’s fit. He’s moving on well, he’s in good form.
“You never look at injuries as being a positive. But you try and find some positives in it, so it’s a longer break than we would have liked, but he’s going to be refreshed coming back playing whether it’s at the tail end of the Six Nations or for us at the end of the season or going into the World Cup as well.
“He’s in with us. He’s not taking a full part in training – he’s working with the physios at the moment.”
On Blair Kinghorn’s performances with Scotland
“I don’t think anyone ever doubted the ability that he’s got to play in those positions. I still believe that he’s an extremely talented number 10.
“Looking at the stats from last season especially, the amount of try assists he had [was impressive].
“These are things that are quickly forgotten but we are really fortunate at Edinburgh that we have a player of his ability who can play at international standard in three positions – 10, wing and full back.”
On Blair still primarily playing as a 10
“I don’t think it is necessarily about being primarily a 10. He has the ability to play 10 for us and play really well.
“He’s covering 10 for Scotland at the moment. He’s not just a back-three player. We believe he has a huge amount of potential in that position, but he has also shown that he can do a really good job there as well.
“It is going to be important how we manage him in terms of where he is playing. At 10 you need to have time in the saddle to give it a good go. We’ve seen with Charlie Savala that getting more starts has developed his game. Blair needs those opportunities as well.
On the importance of this final block of URC fixtures
“We’re ninth at the moment, two points off eighth and three points off seventh. These games are really important.
“I spoke to the group about our away wins against Zebre and Cardiff when we had similar squads with guys away for November and how we attacked those games away from home and in adversity.
“We stepped up and took the opposition on in those games and we believe we have to do the same thing against Scarlets.
“Scarlets have got some confidence in their game at the moment. We need to be able to put them under pressure and also take our opportunities.”