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Mike Blair to coach at Glasgow after announcing retirement

Published 21/04/2016

Mike Blair will become a coach at Glasgow Warriors
Mike Blair will become a coach at Glasgow Warriors

Former Scotland skipper Mike Blair will take up a coaching role with Glasgow after announcing his retirement.

The 35-year-old has admitted he will not play again after a bout of concussion ended his career weeks earlier than planned.

The scrum-half will step up to an assistant coach role under Gregor Townsend after calling time on a 14-year career in the professional game.

Blair said: "It was always my intention to move into a coaching role and although there was an opportunity to play on next year, I believe now is the right time for me to make that change.

"I had originally planned to retire at the end of last season, but I'm glad Gregor persuaded me to play on at Glasgow. I've really enjoyed the season and it's a brilliant environment to be part of.

"With only a few games left this season, I have unfortunately run out of time to be able to regain my fitness before the end of this campaign."

Blair added: "My recent spell on the sidelines has allowed me to start coaching earlier than expected, working with scrum-halves Henry Pyrgos, Grayson Hart and Ali Price, all of whom are currently playing very well.

"They have been a pleasure to work with and I look forward to working with them more as the season draws to a close and extending this role to the rest of the squad as we move into next season.

"I'm lucky to have had a long career and to have played with some amazing players and made lifelong friends.

"I'll definitely miss the camaraderie on the pitch and in the changing room, but it's time to move on and a new challenge awaits."

Blair spent more than a decade with Edinburgh before moving on to Brive and then Newcastle and made 12 appearances for Warriors after joining last summer - his final game proving to be a victory over Cardiff at the beginning of March.

Blair won 85 Scotland caps, 14 of them as captain, before retiring from the international scene in 2013. He was nominated for IRB World Player of the Year in 2008 and toured South Africa with the British and Irish Lions the following summer.

Now he will focus on assisting Townsend, who was full of praise for the scrum-half.

"I was delighted when Mike agreed to come to Glasgow last summer," Townsend said. "He exceeded our expectations on the field with some outstanding performances and would have been in the running for player of the season before picking up his recent injury.

"In my opinion he is one of Scotland's best ever rugby players and it was great to see him play in a Warriors jersey this season.

"It's disappointing that he's not able to finish his career on his own terms, but he can reflect on a brilliant career both at club and at international level."

Townsend added: "Mike's influence off the field has already had an impact at the club, as our three scrum-halves, Ali Price, Grayson Hart and Henry Pyrgos, are all playing well and that is partly down to Mike's coaching and guidance.

"He's helped me with the analysis of opposition and he has some great ideas at improving our attack.

"He'll get lots of opportunities to develop as a coach here and he's excited about that. He'll join our coaching group as an assistant with a primary focus on attack and skills, as well as continuing his work as a scrum-half coach."

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