Blair the latest Lion

Scrumhalf Mike Blair has been called up to the Lions’ squad to tour South Africa.

Ireland No 9 Tomas O’Leary’s fractured ankle ruled him out and handed the opportunity to the Scottish captain. Lions coach Ian McGeechan took two weeks to opt for his fellow countryman, who was nominated as one of five IRB Players of the Year in 2008.

‘The selectors and I have had plenty of time to review the situation in terms of a replacement scrumhalf and were in agreement that Mike Blair should replace Tomas,’ said McGeechan. ‘He was on our reserve list for such an eventuality.’

‘Mike is an excellent addition to the British & Irish Lions squad. As a national captain he is well respected by his peers and his 58 Tests for Scotland mark him as a very capable and experienced scrumhalf.’

Other options included Danny Care and Peter Stringer, but McGeechan and co chose Blair – who has been in good form for Edinburgh recently – after an ordinary Six Nations.

A replacement for injured centre Tom Shanklin has yet to be announced but Gordon D’Arcy and Mike Tindall are thought to be leading candidates.