Blair fit to face England

Wednesday 18 March 2009 14:31

Scotland captain Mike Blair has been declared fit for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash with England.

The Edinburgh scrum-half sustained a back injury in the 22-15 defeat to Ireland at Murrayfield but has recovered in time to take his place forthe Calcutta Cup clash.

Northampton flanker Scott Gray makes his first Test start since his debut four-and-a-half years ago, replacing John Barclay, who drops out of the matchday squad.

Kelly Brown comes in for Gray on the bench.

Under pressure coach Frank Hadden said: "Scott has been knocking on the door for some time now and deserves this opportunity, while we've gone for Kelly on the bench for the coverage that he provides.

"We're looking forward to going to Twickenham and seeking back-to-back Calcutta Cup wins for the first time since 1984."

Hadden's position is in the balance following a dismal campaign for his side. Scotland's only win has come against Italy so far, and failure to beat England at Twickenham, a feat they have not achieved since 1983, will mean they will not have met the SRU target of two wins this championship.

Scottish Rugby Union chief executive Gordon McKie said: "Speculation that this is Frank's last game is somewhat premature.

"I will carry out a review with coaches, selected players and others on the periphery of the national team and reach our conclusion and share it with the board.

"We review the performance of the national team after every series be it World Cup, autumn Tests or Six Nations.

"It can take anywhere between two and four weeks; I suspect Frank will want a break after the Six Nations."

Scotland team to play England in their Six Nations championship match at Twickenham on Saturday (1530 GMT):

15-Chris Paterson, 14-Simon Danielli, 13-Max Evans, 12-Graeme Morrison, 11-Thom Evans, 10-Phil Godman, 9-Mike Blair (captain); 8-Simon Taylor, 7-Scott Gray, 6-Alasdair Strokosch, 5-Jim Hamilton, 4-Jason White, 3-Euan Murray, 2-Ross Ford, 1-Alasdair Dickinson.

Replacements: 16-Dougie Hall, 17-Moray Low, 18-Nathan Hines, 19-Kelly Brown, 20-Chris Cusiter, 21-Nick De Luca, 22-Hugo Southwell.

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