Press Pass: Blair on Doddie, internationalists and bouncing back
Get the latest from Head Coach Mike Blair ahead of Friday night’s BKT United Rugby Championship match against Munster at DAM Health Stadium (2 December, kick-off 7.35pm).
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On Doddie Weir
“It is really sad. For the family reading all the comments about him must be really special. It made me think about Tom Smith as well. Both part of that 97 Lions tour and the regard they were held both on and off the pitch.
“It is a sad moment for Scottish Rugby but to look back at it and what he has achieved, more so over the last five years. What he did on the pitch has maybe been overshadowed by the enormity of what he has managed to do off the pitch in that time.
“You always see him with a smile on his face, laughing, joking, being selfless. Same with Rob Borrow. Amazing guys. Really sad news.”
On playing with Doddie and memories of the man
“I think I played against him once at Meadowbank. I was with Edinburgh and he was the Borders in the inter pro in 2004 maybe. He was winding down a little bit at that stage.
“You have those little quiet moments in life, and I get them every so often. I don’t miss playing for Scotland or miss playing rugby a huge amount. There are a couple of times though over the last ten years when I have taken a breath and taken it all in.
“In 2017 (when Doddie delivered match ball ahead of All Blacks game) when I was Scotland Assistant Coach and the game against them again a couple of weeks ago there was another one. Both involved Doddie. They made me reflect on the experiences I have had, how fortune I have been to have those experiences. Definitely an emotional one.”
On the Benetton defeat
“I thought Benetton were excellent. It was a really emotional performance from them.
“They are a difficult team to beat and I thought they did well, but we have to look at ourselves and say that wasn’t us out there. We need to fix that.
On facing 14-man Benetton
“I don’t think it’s complacency, it’s more that you think that’s going to do the work for you. We showed the players a clip of 55 minutes when they had just gone down to 13 men and we didn’t work hard enough.
“Then we showed a clip at 76 minutes where we looked like we had huge amounts of energy, were working really hard off the ball and had real desperation.
“We need that desperation in our game the whole time. We’ve got it in us but we need to have it more consistently.”
On winning games without ‘big names’
“It’s hard to answer as the guys had done brilliantly winning those two away games. That wasn’t the league expectation.
“Cardiff won in Durban on Sunday so they’re not a bad team at all. There’s deginitely pleasing bits, but it is that consistency and understanding that you maybe struggle to get with a less experienced group.
“We are pleased on the whole with that block of three games. Getting 10 points from three away games isn’t a bad return at all.”
On Scotland players returning to the line-up
“There is a bit of trying to work out the best way to utilise the guys coming back. Do they come back on the bench or do they start and get in the groove straight away.
“I expect them to be up to speed quickly because they’ve all been doing bits and bobs in their time off. It’s not as if they’ve been sitting idle the whole time. I expect them to come in and hit the ground running.”