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Blair satisfied with disrupted squad for England A match

Nine players had to self-isolate after a player tested positive for Covid.

Blair satisfied with disrupted squad for England A match SNS Group

Scotland interim head coach Mike Blair is happy with his new-look squad for the international against England A despite having to make drastic changes following a positive test for Covid-19.

Scotland’s preparations for the match at Leicester’s Welford Road on Sunday were thrown into chaos after the Scottish Rugby Union confirmed an unnamed player had tested positive, with eight others forced to self-isolate as a precaution.

Due to the changes, Blair has named 17 uncapped players in the matchday 23.

Blair, who is standing in for Gregor Townsend while the Scotland head coach is with the British and Irish Lions, had named a 37-man squad for the match with England, which was due to be reduced to 29 before two full Tests against Romania and Georgia next month.

Stafford McDowall and D’Arcy Rae of Glasgow, Edinburgh’s George Taylor, Ben Vellacott of Wasps and Saracens forward Callum Hunter-Hill have now been called up.

“Through other people’s misfortune other people get a chance to shine. We want to see how our guys play and react against a top quality team as England A. It is going to be a real test for us,” said Blair.

“The result is important, we have a good record against England recently so obviously the result matters. But we are also aware that the team has come together fairly late on. Much will depend on how quickly and cohesive we are and how we perform as a unit.”

Blair praised the way in which the situation had been handled, adding: “We’ve clearly had a bit of disruption this week, but the medical team and our playing squad have dealt with it extremely professionally.

“One of the players had come into close contact with someone who had tested positive. We conducted the PCR tests and moved quickly so that the least amount of people were affected by this and it allowed us to keep some players available.

“You can do everything you can and still be unfortunate, and that’s what has happened. But we are still able to get the fixture on and we are really pleased with the squad and the team we are able to put out.”