Scotland right to recall Hardie after cocaine allegations – Blair

Hardie has played three times for Edinburgh, starting twice, since returning from his ban
Six Nations: Ireland v Scotland
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday, 10 March Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Radio Scotland & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Scotland would have been foolish to ignore a player of John Hardie's calibre after his return from a ban, says assistant coach Mike Blair.

Edinburgh flanker Hardie was suspended in October amid allegations of cocaine use, and subsequently given a three-month ban for "gross misconduct".

But he has been recalled before the Six Nations match with Ireland on Saturday.

"When you have a player like that available, it would be silly not to have him on board," said Blair.

"He's a fantastic player. He has a good pedigree and a good history playing with Scotland.

"He's had his time off. He's been helped through that and now he can focus on his rugby."

The New Zealand-born back-rower, who has 16 caps, is one of 10 players added to Gregor Townsend's squad before the trip to Dublin, with experienced campaigners such as Richie Gray, Fraser Brown and Alex Dunbar returning to the fold.

George Horne has scored at least one try in every Pro14 game he has started this season

There is also a first international call-up for Glasgow scrum-half George Horne, the younger brother of Scotland centre Peter.

"George has had a big impact this season," Blair said of the 22-year-old, who has scored 10 tries in 14 games for the Warriors.

"With Ali [Price] and Henry [Pyrgos] there, we thought he wouldn't get a lot of game time at Glasgow, but he has taken every opportunity he's had. He has incredible energy and that lifts the players around him.

"There are still parts of his game that we will be looking to work on, but in terms of raw talent and the will to win, to succeed and compete, he is excellent."

Ireland v Scotland in Six Nations - last 10 years
2017: Scotland 27-22 Ireland 2012: Ireland 32-14 Scotland
2016: Ireland 35-25 Scotland 2011: Scotland 18-21 Ireland
2015: Scotland 10-40 Ireland 2010: Ireland 20-23 Scotland
2014: Ireland 28-6 Scotland 2009: Scotland 15-22 Ireland
2013: Scotland 12-8 Ireland 2008: Ireland 34-13 Scotland

Blair was part of the last Scotland team to beat Ireland in Dublin, coming on as a second-half replacement as Dan Parks kicked Scotland to a 23-20 victory with a last-gasp penalty in 2010. The win ensured Scotland avoided the wooden spoon.

"It was some game," he recalled. "Ireland had a lot [riding] on it. They were gong for a Triple Crown and it was the last game at Croke Park.

"We hadn't had the most successful season. It was a great experience as the team pulled together and Dan Parks had a really good game.

"Dan had a few drinks after the game and was commentating on it at two in the morning, talking himself up a lot.

"He had a fantastic game and had incredible nerve to kick [the penalty] at the end. It was a great occasion."

Source: BBC Rugby Union News

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By adamreeves / Administrator, bbp_keymaster on Mar 05, 2018