Edinburgh drop Mike Blair to bench for crucial clash

CAPTAIN Mike Blair has been controversially omitted from the Edinburgh side for Sunday's must-win Magners League game against Ulster.

• Picture: SNS

The Scotland scrum-half, who will start on the bench, was replaced at scrum-half by Greig Laidlaw in one of three changes to the team beaten heavily at Newport-Gwent Dragons last weekend.

Blair's omission continued head coach Rob Moffat's trend of rotating his squad since he succeeded Andy Robinson last season. But it will raise eyebrows, with Edinburgh likely to need victories in their final two games of the regular season to have a realistic chance of making the play-offs.

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Flanker Roddy Grant will wear the captain's armband this weekend after being recalled following an injury to Ross Rennie.

Scotland centre Nick De Luca will make his first appearance since the RBS Six Nations after recovering from a groin injury, with wing Simon Webster ruled out due to an Achilles problem.

Ben Cairns switches to full-back and Jim Thompson drops to the bench.

Moffat said of Grant: "Roddy has been one of our most consistent players this season. He sets high standards for himself and I believe he will demand that of others. As a coach, you are always looking for leaders and Roddy has those characteristics in droves."