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Blair determined to stake a claim for World Cup

Guinness PRO12 Editor

1 Apr 2011

Edinburgh’s Mike Blair is hoping a strong finish to the season can be the springboard into Scotland’s starting XV.

The former British & Irish Lions scrum-half has fallen down the Scotland pecking order in recent years.

Blair started just one game in the 2011 RBS 6 Nations, against Ireland, and was otherwise selected among the replacements.

But he is aiming to give Scotland head coach Andy Robinson a timely reminder of his capabilities in Edinburgh's four remaining Magners League fixtures starting with Connacht tonight.

"The Six Nations didn't pass me by as such, but I felt I didn't have much of an impact. You look at the stats and it worked out Rory played in total 50 or 60 minutes more than me in the Championship, but the difference in the possessions we had was significant.

"In the Ireland game he came on with 20 to go and he passed the ball only two times fewer than I did in 60 minutes, whereas in the Italy game I came on with the same amount of time left and passed the ball five times in total.

"It's frustrating to get into a rhythm like that. Andy and Gregor Townsend said they were pleased with my contribution throughout the campaign, but I'm always looking for something a little bit more.

"From 2006 to 2009, four and a half seasons, I was first-choice scrum-half and that's what I got used to. Although I was still relatively pleased with the contributions I was making in the Six Nations, it is a long way from where I want to be.

"I feel I play best when I have the total backing of the coach and he is saying, 'You are the number one scrum-half'.

"Andy has said how confident he is in what I am trying to do, but we have other scrum-halves as well and you can't back every single one.

"I would rather it was just me and be seen as that main guy as you get confidence from the fact that the guy in charge is trusting you with winning games and making Scotland or Edinburgh a winning team."

But Blair is determined to finish the season with a bang to heap the pressure on his rivals for the No9 jersey.

"That's the motivation, but it's about the team doing well. Connacht have been slowly progressing every year and have made their biggest jump this year in performance and results."