SCOTLAND head coach Vern Cotter has courted more “kilted Kiwi” controversy by handing a call-up to Otago Highlanders back-row John Hardie.
The 26-year-old has been added to the extended World Cup training squad and arrived in Scotland today to join the national team’s pre-campaign preparations at BT Murrayfield.
Cotter attracted criticism from some quarters when he named the 22-year-old flanker Hugh Blake in his initial Six Nations squad before the youngster had made a professional start in the country. He has since played a couple of games for Edinburgh and is also in the extended World Cup squad.
Hardie has been linked with a move to Scotland since last autumn. He missed the Highlanders’ recent Super Rugby championship triumph over the Hurricanes with a rib injury.
Primarily a flanker, Hardie qualifies for Scotland through his grandmother Christina Lumsden from Culross.
Back in February, the Evening News reported him as saying: “That [Scotland] is always an option but I want to fulfil my potential in New Zealand.
“I’ve always aspired to be an All Black but rugby can be pretty cruel at times. You just have to deal with what is dished up.”
Although Hardie’s NZRU/Highlanders contract is now up, he is not committed to signing for Glasgow or Edinburgh and will now focus on aiming to make the final World Cup pool of 31, while keeping his club options open.