GREIG LAIDLAW returns to the stand-off role for Edinburgh tomorrow against Munster at Murrayfield in the Heineken European Cup after a three-game sojourn at scrum half where he earned his Test spurs with Scotland.
Ironically, the reversal comes at the end of a week which saw the international retiral of Mike Blair which many might have expected to pave the way for Laidlaw, below, moving straight back in at No.9. It is the clearest indication yet that Laidlaw is being inked in for a stand-off outing when Scotland launch the RBS Six Nations Championship against England at Twickenham in three weeks.
Laidlaw’s Twitter address includes the figure “9”, prompting some to suggest this is where he considers himself strongest. However, while acknowledging that there is inevitably speculation as to his likely Scotland position, Laidlaw said: “I’ve been running at No. 9 the last few weeks and quite enjoying it. Overall, I’m happy with my form.
“All I can do is try and keep playing well to keep involved for Scotland.”
Does Blair’s retirement significantly alter the landscape against which new interim Scotland coach Scott Johnston will unveil his opening line-up? “Time will tell,” said Laidlaw: “For me, the rivalry with Mike when he was at Edinburgh [Blair is now with Brive] was a massive help.
“I spoke to Mike this week and congratulated him on a great career with Scotland and thanked him for the help he gave me to make be a better play.
“As much as Mike and I were both wanting to play he helped me, too. He’s a top man and top professional who deserved every cap. I’d be happy to sign off somewhere near the level of Mike.”
During that period as Blair’s understudy, did Laidlaw ever feel he had to submit to frustration and seek to move elsewhere? “It always goes through your head [to leave], but sometimes you have got to bide your time.
“Looking back, something I have learned is make sure your game is in order before you go shouting the odds; be as good a player as you can be. Mike had a great career and I wish him well.”
On the upcoming encounter, Laidlaw said: “Munster will be a tough game. They need to come here and get a win having been struggling for a bit of form like us.
“Hopefully this can springboard for us to get a bit of form back in the league.”