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Blair taking his inspiration from young players

While it is customary for international rookies to look up to their senior colleagues, Mike Blair yesterday admitted that role reversal has taken place in the way he is drawing new enthusiasm from Stuart Hogg.

The teenager scored a try eight minutes into his first Test start against France last month and should also have been credited with one on his debut as a replacement against Wales a week earlier and the scrum-half, who is approaching veteran status, gushed with excitement at his impact.

"This year I notice a slight change in the make-up of the squad, the two to three guys coming in and out, there's been a big age gap," said the 30-year-old who made his Test debut a decade ago.

"There's a huge gap between Mossy [Chris Paterson] and Stuart Hogg, Nathan Hines and Richie Gray . . . that's a huge age range, but what I like about the squad is more competition for places and most importantly we've got guys now with a bit of X Factor like Stuart.

"These guys have got something. Look at the Six Nations so far, Ireland-Wales, a little bit of magic from George North, Rhys Priestland's off-load, apart from that the teams were level. The three games we've played for 70-80 minutes we've been level, it's just that two to three minutes when they've got the X Factor that's made the difference.

"We've got a guys like Dave Denton who are in the first two, three, four games of international rugby and as they get more games they will be key. We have a constant level and also these guys creating something out of nothing, that's where we want to be.

"We were asked in a survey thing a couple of weeks ago about who inspires you in the squad, a coach or fellow player and for me Stuart Hogg is one of the guys I named. He's young, carefree, he's a lovely guy to be around, confident in his ability. My brother Alex went to the Scotland A game [against England] and he was saying Stuart was at the back with Simon Danielli and it was Stuart who was bossing, saying do this, do that. To have a guy like that with natural ability and the confidence to talk and organise, that inspires me."

"I was speaking the other day to Nick De Luca about it, the difference between arrogance and cockiness and when I'm playing at my best I feel confident in guys around me and you're almost carefree. You see that with guys coming through, they've got that looseness about them and the mindset to try things and you need that," added Blair.

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