Edinburgh style now better suited to Scotland, says coach Mike Blair, as new caps return to training

Edinburgh head coach Mike Blair says his team’s new style is a better fit for Scotland – after receiving positive feedback from national team boss Gregor Townsend.

By Graham Bean
Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 3:20 pm

He was speaking after welcoming four new Scotland caps back to training this week as his squad returned from the autumn internationals and prepare to face Dragons at Rodney Parade this Saturday.

Luke Crosbie, Jamie Hodgson, Pierre Schoeman and Marshall Sykes all made their Scotland debuts as part of a 11-strong contingent from the Capital club who featured in the Autumn Test series.

Blair, who stepped down as Scotland assistant to succeed Richard Cockerill as Edinburgh coach in the summer, revealed that Townsend has has been very impressed by the contribution his players have made.

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“He’s been really pleased with how our guys have gone,” said Blair.

“The way we’re playing here at the moment fits a bit better with what Scotland are trying to do so hopefully we’re up-skilling our guys in that area which will be more beneficial for the national team as well.

“The guys coming back like Marshall and Hodgy – Gregor’s been massively complimentary about them.”

Blair will take his time this week to assess which of his internationals are ready to play when his team return to action on Saturday.

Jamie Hodgson, one of the four Edinburgh players to make their debuts for Scotland during the autumn series, back in training for his club yesterday

Hamish Watson, Jamie Ritchie and Schoeman played in all four of Scotland’s Autumn Tests, while Blair Kinghorn, Stuart McInally, Darcy Graham and Hodgson were involved in three.

“We’ve given a few guys Monday and Tuesday off and then we’ll see where they’re at after that,” said Blair.

“A lot of them have played a fair few minutes with the national squad over the past four or five weeks so it is important for them from a physical and mental point of view to get their heads out of things.

Blair hopes the experiences of his newly capped quartet can help the rest of the team.

Edinburgh head coach Mike Blair takes training at the DAM Health Stadium yesterday

“I think there is a greater understanding of what they can do and where they can get to,” said the coach.

“Speaking to some of the individuals they have talked about the learnings they got and what they can bring back and how they can lead and make a bigger influence on what we’re trying to do. From my point of view that’s excellent.“The shoulders are out a little bit more than usual.

“It’s great because they’ve got to prove to the guys who stay here why they are involved in the national team. The guys who trained with us will be equally wanting to say: ‘don’t get too comfortable because we’re coming after you’. It’s a nice balance to have.”

Edinburgh can call upon their new Argentine back Emiliano Boffelli, who has landed in the city after being part of the Los Pumas squad on their European tour.

Blair added: “He’s a quality international. I know Argentina struggled a bit in that last game [a loss to Ireland] but he’s performed pretty consistently throughout and played well for Racing during his time there too. He was someone who was signed prior to me getting here but who I’m pleased to have.”

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