MIKE Blair’s intelligence and leadership qualities have been so evident since his playing days that it seems everybody has long had him earmarked as an inevitable future head coach of Scotland. Everybody, that is, except Mike Blair himself. 

Now 40, the ex-scrum-half will take charge of a team for the first time this summer when he becomes Scotland’s interim head coach for the games against England A, Romania and Georgia. But, speaking after announcing a squad of 37 for those three matches, Blair said he had not thought too far ahead about what shape his career might take, and that he would use the experience to decide whether he felt cut out to be a head coach in the longer term.

“Whenever I’m asked about my future, my goals and what I plan to do, I always wonder if I give a bit of a weak response,” the former Scotland captain said. “I try not to think too much about what’s coming and to live in the moment.

“Some people tut at me for not planning ahead, but it’s a career where you don’t have a huge amount of control. You do as good a job as you can do, and that can be a success or it can not be.

“I’m playing it year to year, but at the same time, coming up does give me the opportunity to see what work goes on - and whether it’s something I massively thrive on or think that there’s too much on my plate. There are lots of things to think about, but I do feel that in the last couple of weeks, looking into all the different things you have control of, the conversations you have, I’m really enjoying it.”

Blair has enjoyed a rapid ascent of rugby’s coaching ladder since retiring as a player in 2016 after a final season with Glasgow. He immediately became an assistant coach with the Warriors under Gregor Townsend, then joined the national set-up in the same capacity when Townsend stepped up.

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Blair’s abundance of ideas was one reason why his former team-mate wanted him involved, and as he prepares to take charge of Scotland that creativity is likely to be very much in evidence. But he is adamant that there is no point in trying to revolutionise the national side over the space of a mere three games, and that the key thing will be to build on the progress achieved by Townsend over the past season or two.

“What’s important for me is that we maintain the momentum we’ve had over the last 18 months with Scotland,” Blair added. “My plan isn’t to come in and change absolutely everything. It’s to build on what we’ve got already.

“I’ve got lots of ideas that I want to do: the hardest part is going to be cutting those ideas down. But it’s a great opportunity for me - something I’m looking forward to. The hardest thing is going to be cutting stuff out of my ideas while still making the team have a little flutter of Mike Blair about it as well, while building on what we’ve already got.”