Press Pass with Mike Blair

Press Pass with Mike Blair

Get the latest from Head Coach Mike Blair as he spoke with press in the build up to Friday night's 1872 Cup opener and URC Round 9 clash against Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun.

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On choosing the squad for Friday night’s derby

“As long as we know by Wednesday morning. But it’s a difficult one. Potentially you’ve got guys who might be 24th man for Scotland.

“Whether they maybe play on Friday and then travel over. There’s a risk with everything. But I very much understand the situation Gregor’s in.

“I was in that situation with him for the previous four seasons. I get what it’s like. I don’t want to push him because he’s got to make the right decisions in terms of what he’s doing for the national team.

“If we get some players back, then hopefully they’ll be desperate to make an impact and get fired in on Friday night.”

On having Glen Young back

“It’s great to have Glen back with us. We were really pleased that he got the call-up to Scotland because he’s been excellent with us. It’s been a different kind of period over the Six Nations because we’ve lost players and we’ve had some injuries.

“So guys like Glen and Pierce Phillips have had to step up. I’ve been really pleased with the way they’ve done that. But to get the call-up to Scotland shows he’s getting some recognition. He wanted to come straight back in with us after the Italy trip.

“We actually had Sunday off. But he was keen to get straight back in, so that shows what it means to him to be back with the club.”

On the importance of Friday night’s derby and players stepping up

“There’s a lot riding on it. We’ve talked about the significance of this game in terms of the league table and a trophy being at stake.

“You can look at these situations in different ways. You can moan and complain about things being unfair. But I love it. I love the fact we’ve talked about giving players opportunities. I love the fact they’re going to have the chance to play in these big games and show what they can do.

“I want them coming moaning to me and saying: ‘Remember how well I played there… why are you picking Hamish Watson or Pierre Schoeman in front of me? Look how well I played.’

“It’s crucial for the club’s long-term development that these guys get games. They’ve got to put their hands up and show they can do a job, which they have done so far.

On a change in style for clubs in the derby

“We don’t really know what we’ll be going up against. That applies to Glasgow as well, because it’ll be quite late in the day in terms of players being released. We just want to focus on ourselves.”

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