Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend will be otherwise engaged as attack coach for the British and Irish Lions’ tour of South Africa in July and August, and former Hawick star Darcy Graham is expected to take three or four months to recover from surgery he underwent in April for a shoulder injury, ruling him out.
Two other ex-Greens, Stuart Hogg and Rory Sutherland, will be hoping to be picked to join former Gala hero Townsend in South Africa, though the latter, despite not needing surgery for a shoulder injury sustained at the end of March, faces a race against the clock to be fit in time if called up by either the Lions or his country.
The 27-year-old hasn’t played since going off injured during Scotland’s 27-23 victory over France on Friday, March 26, in this year’s Six Nations and is expected to be out of action for another four to six weeks, making him touch and go to be ready in time for either tour, according to Richard Cockerill, his club head coach at Edinburgh.
Scotland captain Hogg, 28, is expected to be a shoo-in for the Lions squad to be announced by head coach Warren Gatland this Thursday, May 6, having been called up for the multinational side’s last two tours, in 2017 and 2013.
Assistant Scotland coach Mike Blair will stand in for Townsend, 48, for the national side’s away games against Romania and Georgia in July.
They play Romania on Saturday, July 10, and Georgia a week later, with kick-off times and venues to be confirmed at a later date.
Those matches will be preceded in June by a Scotland A game against opponents yet to be announced.
Blair will be helped out by forwards coach John Dalziel and scrum coach Pieter de Villiers, along with Glasgow Warriors assistant coach Peter Murchie and Scottish Rugby’s director of high performance, Jim Mallinder.
Blair, 40, said: “I’d like to thank Gregor and Jim for this opportunity to lead the Scotland summer tour, and I’m looking forward to continuing to build the positive culture and results we have achieved in recent months.
“This tour gives us the chance to work with a wider group of players and see how they can step up into the international game whilst also continuing to look to improve with our established Scotland players.
“The three matches will present very different challenges and, as a squad and coaching group, we will be looking to continue to create depth and competition for places within strong team performances.”
Mallinder, 55, added: “In what will be a busy summer of rugby, I am pleased we will have three meaningful fixtures for Scotland in the summer tour window.
“The opportunity to put out a Scotland A side enables the coaches to see, and work with, a wider group of players with an eye on the future before we face two test matches, away from home, against quality opposition in Georgia and Romania.
“It also gives me personally a chance to spend time with coaches and players which will help develop those important relationships and connections that come with spending an extended period of time together.”
Scotland’s last two meetings with Romania came in the Rugby World Cup in 2007 and 2011 respectively. They beat them 42-0 at Murrayfield in Edinburgh in 2007 and 34-24 in Invercargill in New Zealand in 2011.
The Scots last faced Georgia in a warm-up for the 2020 Autumn Nations Cup at Murrayfield, winning 48-7. They also beat them in two warm-up matches for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, 44-10 in Tbilisi and 36-9 at home.