Andy Robinson has admitted it was a tough decision to axe four of his former Edinburgh players from the Scotland squad for the opening two games of the RBS 6 Nations.
Head coach Robinson yesterday made a number of changes from his autumn international selection as he revealed a 30-man party for next month’s matches against France and Wales.
Conspicuous by their absence was a quartet of players who worked under Robinson at Edinburgh prior to his appointment as Scotland head coach last summer.
Ben Cairns, Geoff Cross, Kyle Traynor and Scott MacLeod were the men to miss out, along with the Ospreys’ Nikki Walker.
“It’s a tough call,” Robinson said.
“But I want really to focus in France and Wales and it’s important that we get good performances and winning results in those two games.
“The key aspect for us was to focus on that and, therefore, I had to make those tough choices now.”
As well as seeing a decrease in the number of Edinburgh players, Robinson’s selection saw an increase in those from Glasgow.
The squad appears to reflect the current form of each side, with the Warriors top of the Magners League and Edinburgh in the chasing pack.
But Robinson insisted he focused on individual rather than team performances when making his selection.
“I just look at personalities, look at the individuals, how they’re playing,” he said.
Robinson backed two of the Glasgow stars added since the autumn to make a big impact in the squad.
The call-ups of Dan Parks and Ruaridh Jackson immediately trebled their country’s pool of specialist fly-halves.
The uncapped Jackson, 21, has only recently recovered from a serious shoulder injury and Robinson revealed he would have been in the squad for the November Tests had he been fit.
Parks’ omission from Robinson’s first matches in charge was more controversial.
But the national team boss was unable to ignore the form which has propelled Glasgow to the top of the Magners League and has seen the 31-year-old become the competition’s record points scorer.
There was one more uncapped player selected, with 20-year-old Glasgow flanker Richie Gray rewarded for his recent performances.
Co-captain Mike Blair was left out of the main squad as he recovers from an ankle injury picked up during the November Tests.
But the scrum-half was one of four players invited to train at next week’s four-day camp at St Andrews.
The others were Jim Thompson – the uncapped grandson of the late Bill McLaren - Ross Rennie and Jon Welsh.
The squad also included forward trio Euan Murray, Alasdair Dickinson and Jim Hamilton, all three of whom missed the autumn internationals through injury.
Toulon full-back Rory Lamont – who has only recently returned to action – may yet be added for the France game, provided he comes through a club match on Wednesday unscathed.
Richie Vernon, Allister Hogg and Jason White were omitted due to illness or injury.