HE may now be part of Glasgow Warriors’ backroom team but Mike Blair still looks to be in the same sort of shape as in his days captaining Scotland, not least in his own mind’s eye.

It can be hard to let go and, still only 36, he admits to still fantasising about pulling on his boots in anger, to the extent of running the possibility by Gregor Townsend, the Scotland coach who was once his half-back partner.

“In the summer I did say to Gregor it was a dream I had that we had some kind of food poisoning late on in the build-up to the Fiji game and the option was either bringing me back to sit on the bench or to have Lee Jones covering the bench at nine and I kind of said to Gregor ‘Would I have a shout?’ He didn’t answer so I take that… I’d make the last three minutes,” he claimed.

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Maybe so, but his value in his current job is the knowhow he can offer the players as they seek to make a telling impact in European competition

Also a former captain of Edinburgh he was one of their senior men when, in defiance of domestic form in a season which saw them finish bottom of the Pro12, they saved their best for Europe.

Blair was heavily involved in some of the most memorable moments, coming off the bench in the extraordinary match against Racing Metro when they came back from 25 points down to win 48-47 at Murrayfield in their first home match and playing a key role in the move that saw Jones, also now with Glasgow, squeeze over the bonus point securing try that nudged them above Cardiff Blues in the pool and earned the home quarter-final against Toulouse which saw them make history as the only Scottish team to win a knockout match in Europe’s top competition.

If nothing else it was a campaign which served as a reminder to his present charges that Europe represents a new start, albeit every coach would rather be carrying the sort of momentum Glasgow have generated in winning all six competitive matches this season.

“It’s probably the opposite this time around when we’ve had a really good run into this game against Exeter, results wise,” he said. “There have been some really pleasing things in our performances but the great thing is that there are things we can work on. Against Munster we played really well, against the Cheetahs some of the resolve and attitude was excellent, but there are still things we’re improving on.”

Arguably the toughest of their tasks is first up as they head to Sandy Park, but as Blair acknowledged, the switch from the six pool set up in which Edinburgh were competing in 2011/12 and the five pool set up has intensified competition.

“I think it will be a step up,” Blair acknowledged when invited to draw comparison with last weekend when Glasgow defied a difficult trip and altitude to beat Pro14 newcomers the Free State Cheetahs. “Exeter are a fantastic side. They’re 11 in a row at home.

“It’s a great atmosphere and a belief there that they win their home games, so it will be a really big challenge, but we’ve shown enough this season to know we can put our best foot forward and really challenge these guys.”