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Vern Cotter disappointed not to continue in Scotland role

Published 25/10/2016

Vern Cotter has named five England-based players in his Scotland squad for the November Tests
Vern Cotter has named five England-based players in his Scotland squad for the November Tests

Vern Cotter is disappointed the chance to carry on as Scotland head coach has been taken away from him.

The New Zealander was informed by Murrayfield chiefs back in August that his contract would not be renewed when it expires next summer.

Gregor Townsend will lead the side through to the 2019 World Cup after the Scottish Rugby Union acted to stave off the attempts from big-spending English and French sides to poach the highly-rated Glasgow boss by promoting him to its top job.

Cotter - who has already lined up a move to Top 14 outfit Montpellier once his work in Scotland is complete - reckons his current employers have chosen the right man to replace him, but feels he still could have taken Scotland further.

Cotter now has eight games remaining, starting with next month's autumn Tests, before he relinquishes control.

Cotter, who on Tuesday announced a 31-man squad for the clashes with Australia, Argentina and Georgia, said: "I understand (the decision). As a competitor you're always disappointed if you want to go places and have objectives in mind. That's natural but it's done, we just move on now.

"The decision was made to put Gregor in place and I think it's a good decision. The executives made that decision and I respect it.

"The deal is the deal now, so we just get on with the job and get on with these last eight games.

"There will be some emotions but if you look at the big picture it's not about me. It's about Scottish rugby.

"Later on I might sit back and reflect on things but right now I'm completely focused on the games in front of me. I enjoy seeing players develop and getting better. I enjoy seeing them perform well on the paddock.

"So seeing them improve in the last eight games before we break up is what I'm looking to achieve. Gregor's done really well for Glasgow. The performances and his management are top shelf.

"He will do a great job and in a couple of years' time when I'm watching the team I'm sure they will be doing well."

The outgoing coach now hopes to leave on a high with a successful RBS 6 Nations campaign.

But his preparations for the championship could be disrupted by a dispute with English club sides.

Cotter has named five players based in England in his autumn Test squad but Premiership Rugby Ltd (PRL) - the body which represents English club sides - has threatened to bar its Scottish players from playing in the November Tests following a row over an outstanding £400,000 injury compensation bill.

The English clubs have voted to withhold their Scotland internationals - along with players representing Italy, Samoa and Tonga, whose unions are involved in a similar dispute - until the money is paid.

If they follow through on their threat, it would mean skipper Greig Laidlaw, who plays for Gloucester, as well as Exeter prop Moray Low, the Saracens pair of Duncan Taylor and Sean Maitland and Harlequins wing Tim Visser all missing out.

Cotter has sympathy with the clubs following his own stint in charge of French giants Clermont Auvergne but said: "T he fact of the matter is you can't deny people the opportunity to play Test match footy.

"It may be frustrating when you have players coming back to your club injured but international rugby matches are important fixtures and it is pretty tough to deprive players of the opportunity to play for their country.

"But there are smart people involved and I'm sure it will all get sorted out."

One player who will definitely not be taking part is Edinburgh's WP Nel after the tighthead prop suffered a neck injury.

"WP has had a niggling neck injury for a period of time, which was a surprise to us as we didn't think he had a neck," joked Cotter.

"Unfortunately he won't make next month's games but hopefully he will recover well for the Six Nations."

Nel's place goes to his uncapped Edinburgh team-mate Allan Dell - a former South Africa Under-20 international - who will offer cover at loosehead.

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