EDINBURGH Rugby have agreed to rest captain Greig Laidlaw for the next five weeks after a request from the Scotland camp.
Incoming national head coach Vern Cotter and his predecessor Scott Johnson – now the Scottish Rugby Union’s director of rugby – want the scrum-half to be fully recovered from a gruelling season in time for the summer tour of North America, Argentina and South Africa.
The Scotland No 9 is due to join Aviva Premiership side Gloucester in the summer, but Cotter wants his vice-captain ready to hit the ground running once he finally completes his own, protracted move from French Top 14 outfit Clermont Auvergne, around the same time as Laidlaw calls time on his Murrayfield stint.
Laidlaw was one of Scotland’s top performers in last year’s Six Nations tournament but struggled to find his form during this year’s competition, with some pundits suggesting Glasgow’s Chris Cusiter should be handed a starting role.
But Johnson said: “Greig has played a lot of rugby for both Edinburgh and Scotland this season and he’s been a key figure in our leadership group.
“His time at Edinburgh has meant a great deal to him and he will have the opportunity to play again for Edinburgh this season.
“With the schedule as it stands, looking ahead over the next 16 to 18 months, we’re grateful to Edinburgh for supporting this move.”
Edinburgh supporters have been reassured that Laidlaw – who joined the capital club in 2006 – will be given the chance to say his farewells before the end of the season. In the meantime, Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons will put his faith in young half-backs Grayson Hart, Sean Kennedy and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne.
Solomons said: “The performance of the national team is of the utmost importance to the whole of Scottish rugby, and this will be a big year for Greig.
“He has been a long-standing servant of this club and we are happy to support him and Scottish rugby in this regard.
“We have very capable, young Scottish scrum-halves who will compete for the No 9 shirt next season, and will continue to get the opportunities they have handled admirably in Greig’s absence during the RBS Six Nations.”
Three Glasgow Warriors players have been called into the Scotland squad for this weekend’s Hong Kong Sevens.
Forward James Eddie comes in to win his seventh cap, while backs Mark Bennett and Lee Jones are also involved.
The three players replace Joseva Nayacavou, Neil Herron and Alex Glashan respectively, who will all stay on in Hong Kong as injury cover and to allow the team to prepare with an extended squad.
Head coach Stephen Gemmell said: “The Emirates Airline Glasgow Sevens (3-4 May) is just round the corner and our home Commonwealth Games (26-27 July) on the horizon. This is a chance to look at potential players for those tournaments and to help us get the consistency we need to compete on the World Series.”
The Scots’ first game in Hong Kong is against New Zealand tomorrow night (12.20pm UK time). Then on Saturday, they will meet USA (3.34am) and Samoa (7.14am).