No let-up for Scotland skipper Laidlaw
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw has insisted the fact the Vern Cotter is entering the final months of his time as head coach will have no detrimental effect on the national side's form.
The New Zealander, who took over in 2014, was told by Scottish Rugby Union officials in August that his contract would not be renewed when it expires at the end of this season.
Murrayfield chiefs have instead decided to bring in Gregor Townsend, highly thought of for his work in charge of Glasgow, to the national head coach's position amid fears the former Scotland international could be lost to the country as a result of lucrative offers from English and French clubs.
Scrumhalf Laidlaw, who is himself set to leave English Premiership club Gloucester for French Top 14 side Clermont after the end of the current campaign, said Cotter had not been distracted from the task of preparing Scotland for the year-end internationals at home to Australia, Argentina and Georgia.
"Credit to the man Vern is, he is extremely focused on all things rugby," Laidlaw said.
"He has not mentioned anything else. All Vern wants to do is win games of rugby.
"We are just solely fixed on making sure in essence we give Vern a really good last eight Tests," added Laidlaw, the nephew of Scotland great Roy Laidlaw.
Once the season is over, Cotter will be heading back to France to coach Montpellier, with the New Zealander having spent eight years in charge of Clermont before taking up the Scotland job.
Laidlaw, 31, said discussions with Cotter had helped pave the way for his move to France.
"I talked to Vern," he said. "I don't think it's any secret that I am a big admirer of him in terms of how he has helped me with my game and how he has helped the team.
"I got his opinion on a few things, he is obviously very helpful in terms of spending a lot of time in that part of the world. So he was helpful for me in that sense."
Meanwhile, the Scottish Rugby Union accused England's top-flight clubs of "inappropriate" behaviour by threatening to withdraw players from the November Tests because of a disputed medical bill.
The five players involved, including Laidlaw, took part in a Scotland training camp over the weekend following an intervention by World Rugby, with the global governing body poised to rule on the three-year-old row between the SRU and Premiership Rugby Limited (PRL), the umbrella body for England's leading clubs.
"The outstanding medical case cited by PRL - relating to one player dating from 2013 - has no connection to any Scottish International currently playing in the [English] Premiership so the decision by PRL to threaten the release of current England-based players in this context was both unhelpful and inappropriate," said an SRU statement.
An SRU spokesman added: "We usually have a good working relationship with PRL and so this tactic by them was both surprising and unnecessary."