NZ-born John Hardie returns to Scotland squad after serving ban for cocaine use




New Zealand flanker John Hardie's return to the Scotland squad after serving a ban for alleged cocaine use has been defended.

John Hardie.

John Hardie.

Source: Photosport

Scotland assistant coach Mike Blair believes it was a straightforward decision to restore Hardie, who is one of 10 players added to the squad for the remainder of the Six Nations.

The Edinburgh No.7 was suspended for three months earlier in the season for "gross misconduct", forcing him out of the start of the tournament.

Former Highlanders forward Hardie's ban came amid allegations of cocaine use.

He made his return to rugby in early February and has since started two games to force his way into Gregor Townsend's national squad.

Blair says it would have been "silly" to ignore a player of Hardie's pedigree after his return to action.

"He's a fantastic player," said the skills coach.

"He has a good pedigree and a good history playing with Scotland.

"When you have player like that available it would be silly not to have him on board.

"He's had his time off. He's been helped through that and now he can focus on his rugby."

Hardie played six seasons of Super Rugby for the Highlanders and had eight seasons with Southland before shifting to Scotland. He played the first of 16 Tests in 2015.

Scotland head to Dublin to face Ireland on Saturday, looking to back up an impressive win over England that revitalised their Six Nations hopes.

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