Blair: Skipper will have support
Head coach Andy Robinson is to name his Scotland captain on Wednesday, with Mike Blair adamant the chosen skipper will have plenty of support.
Saracens back-rower Kelly Brown has been strongly tipped to be granted the honour having been in line for the role before suffering a broken leg ahead of the RBS 6 Nations, when Edinburgh hooker Ross Ford assumed the leadership.
With Brown available again, Ford's run of eight matches in charge could come to an end for the November 11 EMC autumn Test with New Zealand.
Robinson has informed his players of his decision, which will be made public on the final day of the squad's training camp in St Andrews, with Blair promising the chosen skipper will not be short of advice should it be required.
Blair, who has 83 caps and has led Scotland on 14 occasions, said: "When you're young you think of playing for Scotland, but the honour of leading a side out first is a massive thing, but it's a massive job as well.
"There's a lot of people watching you, a lot of onus is on how you deal with certain situations, the decisions you make on the pitch as well.
"Whoever is captain will get a lot of support from guys around them.
"There are guys within the team, within the squad, who have plenty of caps and experience.
"It's not so much a situation now where it's just one person. It is a group of people. There are multiple people involved in the leadership of the side."
If Brown is chosen as skipper, he will be Scotland's fifth in two years.
The role has been shared in recent times by lock Alastair Kellock, scrum-half Rory Lawson, Ford and Blair, who last led Scotland in the 49-3 November 2010 loss to the All Blacks.
Less than a year later New Zealand became world champions with victory in a tournament Scotland exited at the group stage.
That was part of a miserable campaign for Robinson's men, which included a Six Nations whitewash and the wooden spoon, before a semblance of belief was restored by wins over Australia, Fiji and Samoa in June.
Recent seasons have had a familiar tale with the shattering of optimism and Blair knows however great the task of facing the All Blacks, Scotland must deliver soon.
Blair added: "We are aware of the quality of the opposition we're going to be coming up against and there's no doubt that we need to be at our absolute best to be able to take these guys on.
"The most important thing for us is how we perform in that first 10, 15, 20 minutes. Against the All Blacks, certainly the last two times we've played them, they've almost been out of sight within 15 minutes.
"It's a results game. There's only so long you can talk about potential and playing well in games, but not quite doing enough.
"We were very positive with how things went in the summer. All three games were close games and we came out on top.
"First we've got to keep those games close and once we get into those closing minutes it's about managing that situation."
Tests against New Zealand, South Africa and Tonga would be a challenge for a fully-fit and firing Scotland, but there are a host of concerns, not least at prop.
Melrose-born Newcastle Falcons loosehead Grant Shiells joined the squad for the training camp due to injury concerns over three of the four props named in the 34-man squad last week.
Ryan Grant suffered a head knock in Glasgow Warriors' match at Treviso at the weekend, while Edinburgh duo Allan Jacobsen (hamstring) and Geoff Cross (concussion) are returning to fitness.
The 23-year-old Shiells, who attended Kelso High School, represented Scotland at under-19 and under-20 level and joined Newcastle in 2009. He has made 49 appearances for the Falcons.
The Scottish Rugby Union anticipate Jacobsen, Cross and Grant to be available for selection a week on Sunday, but the propping options are a concern.
Cross is the only specialist tighthead in the squad, while four props are required on a matchday, with two to be named among the replacements.
Kyle Traynor, who left Edinburgh for Bristol in the summer and won three caps as a replacement in 2009, is the only fit prop at present, leading to Shiells' promotion.
There are a number of injury concerns elsewhere in the squad, with treatment ongoing for locks Jim Hamilton (ribs), Kellock (back) and Richie Gray (ankle), flanker Ross Rennie (shoulder), stand-offs Ruaridh Jackson (shoulder) and Greig Laidlaw (neck), centre Nick De Luca (ankle) and wing/centre Sean Lamont (facial).
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