Blair Handed Scotland Captaincy

ImageEdinburgh scrum half Mike Blair has been named Scotland captain ahead of Saturday's RBS 6 Nations match against Ireland at Croke Park, Dublin; capping off a ground-breaking season for the 26-year-old.

The Edinburgh-born half-back has played his entire professional career for his hometown club and has captained the men from Castle in Allister Hogg's absence so far this season; leading by example in the wins over Scarlets and Ulster.

After recently signing a new deal keeping him at Edinburgh until 2010, Blair has played a pivotal role in Edinburgh exceeding the pundits' expectations by enjoying a productive campaign in both the Magners League and Heineken Cup.

Blair is one of five Edinburgh players already named in coach Frank Hadden's starting XV with both Allister Hogg and Ross Rennie in contention to win a place in the back row.

On the bench, prop Gavin Kerr will be aiming to reach a career milestone by winning cap number 50 in a Scotland squad with a very strong Edinburgh flavour._

Scotland team (sponsor Murray) to play Ireland at Croke Park, Dublin in the RBS 6 Nations Championship on Saturday 23 February (kick-off 5pm):

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15 Hugo Southwell (Edinburgh)

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14 Nikki Walker (Ospreys)

13 Simon Webster (Edinburgh)

12 Andrew Henderson (Glasgow Warriors)

11 Rory Lamont (Sale Sharks)

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10 Chris Paterson (Gloucester)

9 Mike Blair (Edinburgh) CAPTAIN

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1 Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh)

2 Ross Ford (Edinburgh)

3 Euan Murray (Northampton Saints)

4 Nathan Hines (Perpignan)

5 Scott MacLeod (Llanelli Scarlets)

6 Alasdair Strokosch (Gloucester)

8 TBC

7 TBC

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Substitutes:

16 Fergus Thomson (Glasgow Warriors)

17 Gavin Kerr (Edinburgh)

18 Jim Hamilton (Leicester Tigers)

19 TBC

20 Chris Cusiter (Perpignan)

21 Dan Parks (Glasgow Warriors)

22 Nick De Luca (Edinburgh)

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Referee: Christophe Berdos (France)._ Touch-judges: Nigel Owens (Wales) and Hugh Watkins (Wales). TMO: Romain Poite