With Scotland’s Guinness Six Nations opener against England only 10 days away both players would benefit from some game time. Watson has not played since suffering a concussion against New Zealand on November 13 while van der Merwe has been missing since limping out of Edinburgh’s home defeat by Glasgow on December 30. The pair have been in the Scotland camp this week, preparing for Twickenham, and Blair will assess their readiness when they return as he looks to maintain momentum following Edinburgh’s excellent win over Saracens in the Heineken Champions Cup on Sunday.
“They’re training with Scotland so we’ll see how they get through that. We’re going to delay naming our team until we find out how they are,” said Blair. “Duhan had obviously had his ankle issues. He’s been away in South Africa getting married, so he had training to do when he was over there, but his session on Tuesday with Scotland will have been his first rugby work for a couple of weeks. Hamish is the same. We’ll see how he goes Tuesday and Wednesday, and we’ll see any guys coming back to Edinburgh on Friday because Thursday is a day off for us. It is a bit of a balance for us deciding whether to bring them in at all, or whether to have them on the bench, or whether to have them start.”
Watson took part in full contact training with Edinburgh last week and Blair thinks he will play some part against the South African visitors. “I think he’ll be involved with us,” said the Edinburgh coach. “We just have to work out in what capacity.”
It’s a tricky time for Blair who will have to delay his team selection while national coach Gregor Townsend works out which home-based players need rest and who needs game-time ahead of the Calcutta Cup. “I’d imagine we'll get some back and not others,” said Blair. “I’d imagine the ones with higher minutes and more likely to be involved in the England game won’t be involved with us this weekend, but some guys who need rugby, like Duhan and Hamish, will come back.”