New Scotland coach must do without Laidlaw for summer tour

Greig Laidlaw has been called into the Lions squad
Greig Laidlaw has been called into the Lions squad
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New Scotland rugby coach Gregor Townsend was having a busy introduction to his new job as he prepared to name a squad for the summer tour today which will now not include national skipper Greig Laidlaw after his British and Lions call-up on Saturday night.

With the World Cup draw coming up in Japan on Wednesday morning, and the Scotland squad going into camp next week, there is no prospect of Townsend easing himself gently into the role which he assumed following his last match in charge of Glasgow on Saturday – a 29-18 loss at home to Edinburgh.

Within hours of the final whistle at Scotstoun and lifting the 1872 Cup courtesy of a 43-41 aggregate success over their inter-city rivals, Townsend learned that he would not have Laidlaw available for the June trip to Australia, Fiji and Singapore for a Test against Italy. The Gloucester scrum-half, who is moving to Clermont Auvergne in the summer, was swiftly called in by Lions coach Warren Gatland after England No.9 Ben Youngs withdrew due to his sister-in-law having terminal cancer.

Laidlaw becomes the third Scot in Gatland’s 41-man Lions squad, alongside Warriors duo Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour.

Townsend spent yesterday reviewing Saturday’s game and admitted that a few Edinburgh players had caught his eye. Tryscorer Damien Hoyland was named man of the match and, with Seymour on Lions duty, may have played his way on to the plane.

Laidlaw’s absence may open the door to a Scotland recall for Edinburgh’s Sam Hidalgo-Clyne after a frustrating year or so. If Townsend takes three scrum-halves, he could join Ali Price and Henry Pyrgos after impressing at Scotstoun with a zippy display despite receiving a yellow card.

“I thought Damien played well. A number of Edinburgh players played well,” said Townsend. “I thought their effort in defence was very good. They were very committed.

“What we saw was real depth of player form both teams. There were a lot of Scottish qualified players in the Edinburgh team and we had 14 or 15 in our side. It’s great that you can get that commitment from players at this stage of the season to put their hands up for selection.”