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Six Nations 2018: Richie Gray fit for Scotland

Six Nations 2018: Richie Gray fit for Scotland

The 29-year-old was banned by both Edinburgh and Scotland in November for "gross misconduct" amid allegations of cocaine use, but made his return to the game in early February and has since started two games to force his way into Townsend's squad.

Alex Dunbar, Zander Fagerson, Darryl Marfo and Fraser Brown - who all featured in last year's autumn internationals - are also recalled after injuries, while George Horne has been handed a first senior call-up. I just think we have big, powerful men in that position that are technically very good rugby players as well.

"When you have a player like that available, it would be silly not to have him on board", said Blair.

Scotland have welcomed back Richie Gray to their Six Nations squad as they look to build on victory over England by derailing Ireland's title bid. "He's been helped through that and now he can focus on his rugby".

In fact, it would now be a major disappointment if Ireland were to fall short of winning the Grand Slam at this stage and while O'Connell doesn't underestimate the threat posed by Gregor Townsend's in-form Scotland on Saturday, he says there is no need to pretend the possibility of a first clean-sweep since 2009 isn't on. "It increases the competition we've had".

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Success across the Irish Sea and a French win over the English in Paris would significantly boost Scottish hopes ahead of their final fixture at home to Italy.

"In fairness, you can text any one of them (coaches) at any time of the day and they'll always come back to you by that evening".

Blair played that day, coming on as a replacement for Chris Cusiter as his team won 23-20 at Croke Park.

"You know, that performance against Wales [a 34-7 thumping on the opening weekend], that was only three games ago".