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Scotland keen to further fly-half factory

Guinness PRO12 Editor

4 May 2010

Scotland appear determined to get their fly-half factory churning out new talent as quickly as possible.

That process will begin this summer when two of the country’s most-promising youngsters will take a significant step up in their development.

Alex Blair, the 19-year-old brother of Magners League stars Mike and David, has been called up to the Scotland A squad, while Duncan Weir will be fast tracked into the U-20s.

Both Blair and Weir have signed professional contracts with Magners League clubs for next season, with Blair joining his brothers at Edinburgh and Weir looking to make an impact following the imminent departure of Dan Parks at Glasgow.

But the duo will now be given an opportunity to progress at higher levels earlier than expected after Scotland head coach Andy Robinson and director of performance rugby Graham Lowe stepped up their search for the fly-halves of the future.

"Within the national management team we spoke earlier in the season about our desire to develop stand-offs and both Gregor Townsend and Duncan Hodge have been working on that project,” said Robinson.

"Stand off is a key position and if we can develop more players to compete alongside Dan Parks, Phil Godman, Ruaridh Jackson, David Blair and Colin Gregor then that can only be for the benefit of Scottish Rugby overall."

Edinburgh’s Godman had been the incumbent Scottish No10 for the end of Frank Hadden’s reign and the early part of Robinson’s tenure before Parks made the shirt his own with a series of impressive performances in this year’s Six Nations.

But despite Parks’ superb spring showing, Scotland are determined to develop the next generation of talent and Blair and Weir fit that billing.

"As high performance coaches we believe it makes sense that we look at the opportunities to which we can expose some of our up and coming young talent over the summer,” added Lowe.

"So, in discussion with Eamon John, the Scotland U-20 head coach, we are recommending that Alex Blair, the 19-year-old National Academy player, will now be part of the Scotland A squad for the IRB Nations Cup in Bucharest.

"Furthermore we are recommending that Duncan Weir, who has already been part of the Scotland U-20 squad this season and was a key figure for the national U-19 team in their victories over their Italian and French counterparts, will now be involved with the Scotland U-20 squad for the IRB Junior World Championships in Argentina in June."

In a separate development, Nick Scrivener and Stevie Scott have been added to the Scotland A coaching set up.

Scrivener is currently an assistant coach at Edinburgh, while former Scotland hooker Scott has been working as a specialist throwing coach with the national side.

The pair will join Glasgow boss Sean Lineen after the New Zealander led Scotland A to glory last year.

Scotland A’s matches in the IRB Nations Cup will be on Friday 11 June against Georgia with an 8pm kick-off local time (6pm UK time); on Tuesday 15 June against Namibia, kick-off 6pm local (4pm UK); and on Sunday 20 June against Argentina Jaguars, kick-off 8pm local (6pm UK).

Scotland under-20 will play pool matches against Australia in Santa Fe on Saturday 5 June; against South Africa in Santa Fe on Wednesday 9 June; and against Tonga in Parana on Sunday 13 June.