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Dublin: 1°C Friday 7 May 2021

Vern Cotter adds a Super Rugby winning Highlander to Scotland's World Cup squad

John Hardie has been drafted in by fellow New Zealander Vern Cotter.

Vern Cotter has found another Kiwi for the Scots.
Vern Cotter has found another Kiwi for the Scots.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

SCOTLAND COACH VERN Cotter has made a surprise inclusion to his provisional World Cup squad, after calling up uncapped New Zealander John Hardie.

Hardie was a regular feature in the back row for Super Rugby champions the Highlanders this season, although the 26-year-old missed the final three games of the season with a rib injury.

The New Zealand born flanker qualifies for Scotland via his grandmother, and links up with the squad immediately, and will likely earn his first caps in the World Cup warm-up games against Ireland, Italy and France.

Hardie says that he’s been considering his international allegiance for some time.

“Representing Scotland has been on my radar for a long time so I’m delighted to get this chance to compete for a place in the squad for the Rugby World Cup.

“I’m under no illusions how tough it’s going to be to make the final selection but I’m looking forward to getting started and showing how much this opportunity means to me and my family,” he said.

Hardie is the second New Zealander called up to the squad by Cotter this year, after Edinburgh’s Hugh Blake was drafted into the international set-up before even making appearance for his new club Edinburgh.

At the time, Blake was mockingly referred to in the Scottish media as the “kilted kiwi”, but went on to feature for the club in the second half of the season, as well as finishing the campaign on loan at eventual Pro 12 champions Glasgow.

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Neil Treacy

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