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Laidlaw 'honoured' with captaincy

Greig Laidlaw insists he has no problem being Vern Cotter's second choice for the Scotland captaincy.

The Gloucester scrum-half will take over the captaincy duties from Edinburgh lock Grant Gilchrist for the Dark Blues' opening autumn international with Argentina at BT Murrayfield on Saturday.

Twenty-four-year-old Gilchrist was due to lead the Scots out for this month's Tests against the Pumas, New Zealand and Tonga but sustained a fractured forearm in the Gunners' European Challenge Cup win over Lyon just four days after being told he was the nation's new on-field leader.

That means Laidlaw has been promoted to the top job but the 29-year-old bears head coach Cotter no hard feelings about being snubbed first time round.

Laidlaw - who will skipper his country for the eighth time - said: "I'm delighted to be named the captain as it is always a great honour. I'm looking forward to leading the boys out and the game against Argentina.

"I feel sorry for Gilcho. He has played well for Edinburgh but has unfortunately broken his arm when his big chance was coming.

"The decision to give him the captaincy in the first place is what it is. Vern choose Gilcho and that is his choice. I'm just keen to play for Scotland."

Laidlaw will be well advised to saviour his stint as skipper after Cotter hinted he may hand the honour to someone else for the All Blacks clash on November 15.

The Kiwi coach said: "Greig has been playing well for his club and captained for me twice during the summer tour, when I thought he did a good job.

"I chose Grant originally because he calls line-outs and in a combined leadership role, he was the obvious choice.

"But we hadn't disregarded Greig's leadership qualities either. We are also lucky enough to have a number of other leaders too.

"Greig has got the nod for this weekend. We will look at his performance and then look at what we do going forward."

Laidlaw will be back on familiar footing when he strides onto the newly-laid £1.25million Murrayfield pitch on Saturday.

The half-back quit Edinburgh in the summer as he sought a fresh challenge with David Humphreys' Gloucester and admits the change of scene was just what he was looking for.

"The move to Gloucester has been revitalising," explained Laidlaw. "I was ready to leave Edinburgh - I was at the stage in my career where I wanted to try something new and I've really enjoyed it so far.

"It's a good set-up down there, every match in the Premiership feels like a big game and we are well supported down at Kingsholm, so from a personal perspective, it has allowed me to kick on.

"Hopefully that will now feed into my Scotland form. I'm playing quicker now than I have ever done in the past because that is the way Gloucester want to play. Vern wants to do that as well with Scotland.

"It's important I show that in these Tests because we have got a very important Six Nations coming up before we even start thinking about what everyone is talking about - the World Cup."

The match will also be Cotter's first in Edinburgh since he replaced Scott Johnson in the summer.

His defence coach Matt Taylor revealed on Monday that the former Clermont Auvergne boss has sought out doyens of the Scottish game - former British and Irish Lion Jim Telfer, Ian McGeechan and Andy Irvine - for guidance on the true meaning of the Scottish style of play.

Cotter, who has called up number 8 David Denton following his return from a hamstring tear, was reluctant to divulge the details of his conversations but insisted he will protect the game's legacy.

He said: "There has been a connect with the people who have worn the shirt beforehand and the players now would like to leave something for the guys who will wear it in future.

"My job is to adapt our style of rugby to the players that we have got but I think there are certain characteristics that we can take through.

"These players want to do that and leave a legacy for the guys who come next."


From Belfast Telegraph