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Scotland suffer Laidlaw blow

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Scotland suffer Laidlaw blow for Autumn internationals

Scrum half Greig Laidlaw will not be released by Clermont Auvergne for Scotland’s opening Autumn international against Wales in Cardiff on November 3.

Laidlaw, who has captained Scotland in 31 of his 63 caps, has informed Gregor Townsend that he will miss the Welsh game, which is outside the international release window, but is available for the remaining November tests with Fiji, South Africa and Argentina. With Finn Russell now playing at Racing 92 in Paris, it means Scotland look certain to face Wales without their first choice half backs who have played 29 tests together.

With Laidlaw absent, Townsend must decide between the Glasgow Warriors pair of George Horne and Ali Price, Edinburgh’ Henry Pyrgos and Scarlets Sam Hidalgo-Cline for the No9 jersey in Cardiff.

Laidlaw, who has scored 623 points for Scotland, has helped Clermont first place in the Top14 in France and guided the team to a thumping 41-20 European Challenge Cup win over Northampton. He said: “I spoke to Gregor and it looks like I will join up with Scotland for the second game. It is part of the contract in France and there are international windows and Clermont have been good to me during my injury last season and it is important I have a good relationship with them as well.

“It is important not to push too hard on one game and I respect their decision and if they want me to play, then first and foremost, I will play for Clermont.”

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Clermont destroyed the Northampton scrum that included England captain Dylan Hartley at hooker and Laidlaw insists the French league leaders will continue to play their big guns in the second string European competition. The 33-year-old British and Irish Lions scrum half explained: “ It is wonderful to play behind our pack and it makes my job so much easier.

“It was a brilliant team performance against Northampton and puts us in a good position and it’s not the Clermont way to put out a different team. We were very disappointed with last year’s performance in the Champions Cup and now it is about doing extremely well and pushing on in this competition because we have ambitions to win it.

“At Clermont we try and play an attractive brand of rugby and we signed the players to play that type of game in the wide channels with great tempo. “

Clermont have a potent back three featuring Wallaby Peter Betham, who grabbed two tries against Northampton, All Black Isaia Toeava and Samoa’s Tim Nanai-Williams.

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Scotland suffer Laidlaw blow for Autumn internationals