GREGOR TOWNSEND has dismissed the suggestion that Mike Blair may have played his last game of professional rugby.
A quote from the coach, which was taken out of context two weeks ago, led to a number of newspaper reports suggesting that the record breaking scrum-half – who represented Scotland 85 times between 2002 and 2012 – may be forced to hang up his boots after a recent concussion.
However, Townsend insisted that he fully expects the 34-year-old to be back in action for Glasgow Warriors before the end of the season.
Whether or not Blair continues to play after the summer is a different matter. He is halfway through a two year contract, but stated when he penned the deal that a key factor in his decision to return to Scotland was his desire to move into coaching under the guidance of Townsend.
Townsend’s response was clear and succinct when he was asked if Blair’s playing career is over.
“Not at all,” he stated.
“He’s obviously having an extended rest with getting another concussion this year. Just now that’s got another two weeks to go and we’ll assess it from there,” he added.
“He signed a two-year deal but the expectation was that he would move into coaching (with Glasgow) in the second year and that’s still the plan.”
“We still expect him to be available by the end of the season. If there’s any risk that his concussion doesn’t clear or he gets a relapse then obviously we’d reassess but at the moment we’re looking at him being available in a couple of weeks’ time.”
Townsend was clearly frustrated that so much focus had been directed towards this issue – especially as the initial report appeared under the name of a journalist who had not attended the press conference from which the quotes emerged.
“The tough thing with concussions [is the anxiety]. People with concussion say: Don’t ask me how I’m doing. Because it does build anxiety, and that’s one thing when you do have symptoms and you do worry about coming back. So we try to keep things cool with those guys who do have head knocks, such as Alex Allen, who’s been off for an extended period. Whenever their head clears up and they are ready to train we’ll take it from there,” said Townsend.