Blair welcomes heightened competition for places

Scotland Skills Coach Mike Blair welcomed the news that 10 players joined the squad in camp yesterday, intensifying the competition for places among a group that has won back-to-back NatWest 6 Nations games at BT Murrayfield.

After home wins over France and England, the Scots prepare to face Ireland in Dublin this Saturday (10 March, kick-off 2.15pm) – live on ITV – with the team now focused on getting another positive result at the Aviva Stadium.

Some seven of the 10 players added have returned to the squad from injury, including experienced campaigners like Toulouse lock Richie Gray and Glasgow Warriors centre Alex Dunbar while, at the other end of the spectrum, Glasgow Warriors’ in-form scrum-half, George Horne, has earned his first international call-up.

The boosted squad means coaches have some tough decisions to make this week in regards to selection but Blair is relishing the added competition within the group.

“There’s a good feeling in camp and it’s a boost to have these players back in the squad.

"We have some guys coming back from injury and it’s important for us to also breed players coming through the ranks, to give them the opportunity and see how they perform in this environment.

“Having that slightly larger squad enables you to look at different players and get a better insight.

“It makes a really interesting selection meeting when you have guys coming back from injury up against new guys in great form.”

Looking ahead to the prospect of facing and unbeaten Ireland side in Dublin, he added: “We need to put them under pressure, something we were able to do against England in different ways but it is a lot more difficult to win away from home.”