THINGS didn’t go well for Scotland in Cardiff last week, and they were particularly badly for scrum-half Ali Price. His rise came to an abrupt halt against the Welsh, replaced during the opening Six Nations game by Greig Laidlaw, who this week was named as starter against France.

It was a big call, and one which Scotland assistant coach Mike Blair would have had a say in. You don’t have someone on your staff, with the experience of 85 games for his country, without tapping in to that kind of knowledge.

For Blair however, the only thing that has changed is who gets to kick-off against the French. From his perspective, and given how Test matches are now played out, both Laidlaw and Price have key roles to play.

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“It’s great to have Greig back,” admitted Blair, taking about the former Scotland skipper. “This will be his first start under this coaching team. I’m sure he’s been watching on and been looking to be part of it. We mentioned a few weeks ago how important it was going to be to have our 9’s functioning and playing well and being able to play different roles.

“Greig did well coming off the bench and he gets the opportunity this week. But equally I have said to Ali that his contribution might be more important than last week, as he’ll be on the pitch in the closing stages.

“I think they are different players. But they are also capable of doing the things they are perhaps not known for, especially with Greig. On the Lions tour, a couple of times he came on and had a real zip about him. And he’s got to keep pushing that.

“I thought Ali did it really well in patches against Wales, but he needs to get that consistency, so we are moving the ball and getting the fundamentals of our attack moving.”

And Blair, who worked closely with Price at Glasgow, is in no doubt Price has the character to survive this hiatus.

“He’s a really confident player and a really talented player. I guess a couple of errors that he made in the game would be the first time he’s experienced that in an international. But when I’ve seen that with Glasgow in the last couple of seasons when he made mistakes, he bounces back really quickly with that self-belief. And that tempo he’ll bring off the bench will be crucial in the outcome of the game.

“I can’t remember where I read it, but it was one of those quotes about making errors creating learning opportunities. For him, it’s a massive learning opportunity and he’ll be much stronger for it.

“He was disappointed on how the game went and how he could have reacted differently. But he’s young and only just into double figures in terms of caps and will get a lot better with these experiences. By the end of the week, he had a spring in his step again and he was focused on what he will have to do on Sunday to win us this game.”

Looking at the bigger picture, Blair identified where Scotland got it wrong last week.

“We lacked composure at times. I don’t believe what we tried to do was wrong. There was talk about whether we had a ‘plan B’ or not. I don’t believe in that. What we tried to do was right, but we just weren’t accurate enough and coughed the ball up too easily.

“On the back of last week, we expected a reaction and I think we’ve had a visible one in terms how we’ve trained this week. We got through today’s session pretty quickly, minimal errors and lots of understanding about what we were trying to do.

“I think it’s flushed out the system in terms that we are ready to move on. It’s not out of the minds. We are aware we have lessons to learn from that and we will be a better team this week for it.

“We’ll always emphasis the start of the game and against Wales we did have a good start. We looked comfortable and created opportunities. But giving away that breakaway try

obviously shifted the momentum a little bit.

“Against a French team, who are travelling, who haven’t had the best of success in the last few seasons, it would be good to put some doubt in their mind at the start of the game.”

Blair was asked where the big threats lay in the French terms. With a puff of the cheeks, he replied: “Yes, the big threats,” a direct reference to the physical and imposing nature of the French side, particularly one to five. “They’ve got some big units in that front five.

“I’d imagine then they’d look to challenge us in that area. With [Lionel] Beauxis at 10, we envisage more of a kicking game, putting those big forwards in good positions. But kicking will give us counter-attack ball and that’s one of our strengths.”