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Laidlaw: overseas players must not stall Scots talent

Greig Laidlaw, Edinburgh's internationalist scrum-half, has warned Scotland's rugby authorities that care has to be taken over bringing overseas players into the country's professional sides to avoid discouraging home-grown talent.

Greig Laidlaw: 'what is happening is happening'
Greig Laidlaw: 'what is happening is happening'

Laidlaw was speaking in the wake of another two South Africans signing for Edinburgh in the past few days. On Sunday, it was confirmed that the centre Andries Strauss, formerly of the Cheetahs, Sharks and Southern Kings, had joined the capital club, and the news came just three days after the former Pumas fly-half Carl Bezuidenhout had also been added to the Edinburgh squad. Like two other recent signings, Tony Fenner and Cornell du Preez, Bezuidenhout played under the Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons at his former club, the Port Elizabeth-based Southern Kings. The South African Solomons' policy of signing up his countrymen has led to Edinburgh being dubbed the Edinboks, but supporters have also expressed concern that the new arrivals are blocking the path into the pro game for ambitious Scottish players.

While careful not to criticise his coach, Laidlaw admitted that there is an issue for the club. "What is happening is happening," said the 28-year-old, who has won 24 caps for Scotland since his debut in 2010. "Alan feels there is a need to bring in a few people he knows. That is outwith my control.

"I came through the [Scottish club] system and was very grateful for that. We need to be careful where we are going because there is a lot of good young talent in Scotland that can come through and will come through.

"The academy system is getting sorted out at the minute. If that can be improved, they may not look to bring in as many [overseas players] in the future. At the minute that is what is happening and we cannot control that."

In Edinburgh's last competitive outing - against Glasgow Warriors at Murrayfield - five of the starting eight forwards were, essentially, products of a rugby upbringing in South Africa. One other had learned the game in Australia. The vast majority of players who have joined Edinburgh in the past six months have come from the southern hemisphere.

"There are foreigners in every squad all over the world and Edinburgh is no exception," said Laidlaw. "We are all one here. But with there being only two Scottish-based teams, it is very important to have as many Scottish boys playing as possible."

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