MIKE Blair believes that Scotland supporters can remain optimistic about the national team despite the disappointment of defeat by Wales at the weekend. The Edinburgh coach, who won 85 caps for his country, is convinced that substantial progress has been made by Gregor Townsend’s side over the last few seasons, and last night urged their critics to maintain a sense of perspective.
“I think Scotland are in a really positive place,” said Blair, who was an assistant coach of Townsend’s before taking charge of Edinburgh last summer. “Wales is a very difficult place to go and win – they’ve got a good record there.
“That ball was really wet during the game – Wales potentially played the conditions a little bit better. Scotland will be frustrated that they didn’t win the game, because it was there to be won.
“Scotland are on an upward curve at the moment over the last three or four seasons. And for me one below-par performance doesn’t warrant some of the chat that it’s been getting.
“Scotland winning against England was a fantastic result against a really strong team. I think Scotland are in a good position.”
Blair’s Edinburgh side, URC leaders last month, have dropped to fourth in the table following their 26-7 defeat by Leinster last Friday. They face another tough away game this Friday when they take on Munster, but the head coach believes this run of matches will be character-building for his young squad.
“This is going to be a really crucial period for us,” he continued. “It’s going to be tough with a few of our players away and us having away games against strong teams, but this is brilliant for young players coming through.
“They can show what they can do and will be able to see what it takes to win at this level. This is excellent for their development while at the same time we are able to put a team out that can win these games.”
Blair does not yet know which players he may get back from Scotland for the trip to Thomond Park. “We’re hopeful of getting a handful of players back,” he added.
“It’s really case by case – who Gregor believes needs some game time, who they probably couldn’t do without if they got injured.
“It’s not necessarily how many minutes they’ve played, but what’s required by Gregor. We’ll be pretty pleased to get a few players back, so fingers crossed.”