SCOTLAND playmaker Greig Laidlaw has completed a deal to join Gloucester next season, replacing Leicester-bound Freddie Burns as the Cherry and Whites’ frontline fly-half.
Gloucester boss Nigel Davies expects versatile 28-year-old Laidlaw to feature almost as often at scrum-half as he will at 10, citing the Edinburgh pivot’s pinpoint goal-kicking as crucial to the transfer.
Laidlaw has amassed 27 caps since his 2011 Scotland debut, preferred at scrum-half in the current RBS 6 Nations campaign.
England fly-half Burns’ decision to join Leicester next term led Gloucester rugby director Davies to recruit “an 80 per cent-plus goal-kicker” to back up the statement signings of John Afoa and Richard Hibbard in the pack.
“He’s likely to be first-choice 10 but we’ve got a few combinations there,” said former Wales coach Davies.
“We see him very much as a nine-come-10, which he has done at Scotland, he’s played 40 per cent of his games at 10 for Scotland.
“He’s the right type of character that we need to bring into this group.
“He’s a natural leader, and he impacts games very positively.
“He’s a true 80 per cent-plus goal-kicker, so we’re very excited about that.”
England squad fly-half Burns’ form has plummeted ever since he agonised for nearly two months over whether to sign for Leicester for next term.
The Bath-born livewire attacking talent suffered another forgettable afternoon as Gloucester were overwhelmed 39-13 in the Aviva Premiership at Northampton on Saturday.
Last term Burns’ goal-kicking accuracy tipped 75 per cent while this term his league stats linger around 57 per cent.
Burns will be hoping the Leicester move brings a new lease of life, while Gloucester and Davies are backing Laidlaw’s goal-kicking consistency to help spark a Kingsholm revival after a disappointing season so far.
Despite Scotland and Edinburgh currently both being keen to channel Laidlaw towards scrum-half, Davies said the new recruit is relaxed about mixing his half-back duties at Kingsholm next season.
England Saxons scrum-half Dan Robson has prior experience of fly-half, with Davies expecting the playmaking duo to interchange in open play next season.
“With Dan Robson there too, the work those two can do together will be very interesting,” said Davies, admitting their partnership will follow the fluid French model.
“Both of them play nine and 10, and in phase play we can experiment with a few things next year.
“But the key thing for me is, I’ve spoken to Greig, he’s really keen to get to Gloucester, he felt it was the right move for him, he wanted to come to the club and play in front of the fantastic support we have at Kingsholm.
“He feels with the squad we’re putting together for next season, he thinks he can do that.”