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Edinburgh coach Mike Blair backs new signing for Scotland call-up

(Photo by Paul Devlin/SNS Group via Getty Images)

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Mike Blair believes Edinburgh scrum-half Ben Vellacott could play his way into Scotland contention if he keeps up his scorching early-season form.


The 26-year-old has made a big impression since moving to the Scottish capital this summer from Wasps.

Vellacott was a standout in the victory over Scarlets on the opening weekend of the United Rugby Championship and then scored two tries in Saturday’s narrow defeat by Benetton in Italy.

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The recent recruit was born in England but qualifies to play for Scotland through his mother and has already played for the Scots at age-group level.

Edinburgh coach Blair said: “If Ben continues playing the way he’s playing, then he becomes part of the Scotland discussion.

“The good thing for Ben is that he’s got Charlie (Shiel) and Henry (Pyrgos) snapping at his heels here so he knows he’s got to perform well.

“I think he enjoys the hard, fast pitch here and he enjoyed the sun in Treviso (on Saturday) as well as the fact the forwards gave him some good go-forward ball.


“He’s doing great and he’s being pushed hard by the other nines.”

Blair believes Edinburgh need to become better at in-game decision-making after their agonising last-gasp 28-27 defeat in Italy on Saturday.

He said: “It’s a funny one to review because there was lots of positive stuff there. I know it’s easy to say ‘look at the tries we scored’ but in general there were positives.

“There was aggression in the breakdown, the defence was good in large parts, the attack was excellent in large parts. But we also spoke about shooting ourselves in the foot.


“We gave a lot of start points to Benetton and that allowed them to put pressure on us. We gave away nine penalties in the second half, and in the last 20 minutes we gave away six unforced turnovers.

“You do that and you’re going to be up against it. When we take control of the game, we’re a very good side and we’re very difficult to beat but we can’t afford to give the opposition easy ‘ins’ into the game.

“I don’t see them as skill errors, they are mostly decision-making errors, like mental switch-offs. The effort was there, but we need to make sure we’re mentally fit as well as physically fit.”

Edinburgh have the chance to bounce back when they get their first taste of South African opposition in the URC this Saturday when they host a Stormers side who have lost to Benetton and Munster in their opening two matches.

Blair said: “It’s new opposition. We don’t know too much about the individuals but it’s exciting for the competition because they play a different brand of rugby.

“They’ve got a lot of speed in their team and they’ve got a lot of size as well. They were 15 points up away to Munster at the weekend and not many teams get themselves into that position so they’re obviously a really dangerous and competent team.”


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