John Hardie: Scotland add Highlanders back-row to squad

Highlanders back-row forward John Hardie
John Hardie qualifies to play for Scotland through grandparentage

New Zealand-born back-row John Hardie has been called into the Scotland squad ahead of the World Cup.

The 26-year-old, who qualifies through his grandmother, has recovered from the rib injury that forced him to miss Highlanders' Super Rugby triumph.

"Representing Scotland has been on my radar for a long time," said Hardie, who won the Under-19 World Championships with New Zealand in 2007.

"I'm delighted to get this chance to compete for a place in the squad."

Scotland's World Cup warm-up matches
Ireland v Scotland (15 Aug)Italy v Scotland (22 Aug)
Scotland v Italy (29 Aug)France v Scotland (5 Sept)

Hardie's brother, Grant, played for Peebles RFC in the 2009-10 season.

"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 added.

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter must reduce his playing pool to 31 for the tournament in England following warm-up matches against Ireland, Italy (home and away) and France.

He named a 46-man training squad in early June and since then Dougie Fife and Ben Toolis have replaced injured Tim Swinson and Duncan Taylor.

"We're pleased to welcome John into the group and look forward to him intensifying the competition for places in an already fiercely contested area of our squad," said Cotter.

"Depth is crucial to any World Cup campaign and it will be vital to see the contributions of the entire squad in our four warm-up matches, before making a decision on the final 31."

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