Scotland call up flanker Hardie
Scotland have called New Zealand-born flanker John Hardie into their extended World Cup squad.
The Otago Highlanders player was quoted earlier this year as saying he wanted to fulfil his ambition of playing for the All Blacks, but the 26-year-old has vowed to fight for a place in Vern Cotter's final squad for the tournament.
Hardie is a regular in Super 15 and qualifies for Scotland through a grandmother from Fife.
Hardie, who has arrived in Scotland to join up with his new team-mates, said: "Representing Scotland has been on my radar for a long time so I'm delighted to get this chance to compete for a place in the squad for the Rugby World Cup.
"I'm under no illusions how tough it's going to be to make the final selection, but I'm looking forward to getting started and showing how much this opportunity means to me and my family."
Cotter added: "We're pleased to welcome John into the group and look forward to him intensifying the competition for places in an already fiercely contested area of our squad.
"Depth is crucial to any World Cup campaign and it will be vital to see the contributions of the entire squad in our four warm-up matches, before making a decision on the final 31."
Hardie joins a Scotland squad which failed to pick up a point in the RBS 6 Nations.
A more established player, fly-half Duncan Weir, is also coming in fresh after missing the tournament with an arm injury, but he feels the whole pool can build on the positives from the finale to last season.
Weir returned from surgery in time to play in Glasgow's most important games of the season as they clinched the Guinness Pro12 title.
Weir said: "As a Scotland side, we were obviously very disappointed with the Six Nations. I wasn't there at the time but I know Vern said 'go back and put in a good shift with your clubs'.
"Edinburgh did that by getting to a European final and we went one stage further by winning a title, which was fantastic for the country and the club as well.
"We all knew we could achieve that going into the final and the manner we did it as well was fantastic. Jim (Hamilton) won a Premiership title with Saracens as well."
Weir might have been sitting out the Six Nations but he still had to suffer the home defeats - and explain them.
"It's always frustrating," the 24-year-old said. "I'm a fan first of all and I'm very privileged to represent my country. I felt the pain of every defeat just like the boys did.
"There's not a nice atmosphere when you head back into the tunnel when you've not won, especially at Murrayfield in front of our fans. It really does hurt. I felt for the guys.
"I had other commitments during that time so it was a wee bit different. I was doing hospitality and I was trying to explain what I'm seeing when games are unfolding. It was challenging but I quite enjoyed it to stop myself tearing my hair out."