ONE OF the Borders’ brightest rugby prospects has spoken this week of his delight in making Andy Robinson’s Scotland training squad ahead of the 2012 Six Nations campaign and insists he “ain’t just there to carry bags”.
At the age of 19, former Hawick player Stuart Hogg is the youngest member of Robinson’s 36-man squad and is one of six uncapped players named on the list. Speaking to TheSouthern this week, however, the Glasgow Warriors full back made it clear that he will be going all out to make a serious challenge for a place in the team.
“When Andy Robinson called me last Wednesday to tell me I had a place in the squad I thought for a minute that it was one of the boys winding me up. I’ve been pinching myself ever since.
“Saying that, I’m definitely not just there to carry water bottles and hold bags, and I will be training harder than ever to make sure I get noticed and hopefully get into the final squad.”
Hogg – whose father John was a championship winning full back and top-notch referee from Hawick, and brother Graham played both age-grade and 7s for Scotland – has won promotion from the Scotland under-20 squad. He made his Glasgow debut last February and last week signed a contract that will keep him with the pro-side until at least May 2015.
“My family are delighted,” he added. “My dad is my biggest critic, but also an inspiration and makes sure I keep my feet on the ground. Graham has been a great help and I got the benefit of his experience when we played together at Hawick last year. My mum also has been great. She puts up with us all and drove us around to games, training etc all the time when we were younger. She comes to all my matches and is a great support.”
Hogg will be joined in the training squad by fellow first-time Borderer Lee Jones. A product of Selkirk RFC, Jones graduates from both Scotland 7s and Scotland A team and has scored six tries in 28 appearances for Edinburgh since making his debut in a pre-season friendly against London Irish in 2010.
Announced last Thursday, Robinson’s untried sextet also includes London Irish centre Steven Shingler, 20, who qualifies to play for Scotland through his mother, Jeanette Ireland, who hails from Langholm.
However, Shingler’s inclusion in the squad is now in the hands of the International Rugby Board (IRB) after it was questioned by the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU).
Swansea born Shingler played for Wales under-20s against France under-20s last season, but insists that he declined to sign a declaration from the WRU stating that he was committed solely to representing Wales at senior level and has informed Scottish Rugby that he made it clear that he wished to leave his international eligibility open.
A spokesperson for the governing body said: “Scottish Rugby believes we have acted in good faith in this matter and have also taken cognisance of an IRB ruling last year concerning two players who played for Wales under-20 against France under-20 in 2010 who now play for Connacht and are eligible for Ireland.”
On the announcement of the squad last week Shingler said: “I would be massively proud to play for Scotland. My upbringing from my mother means I’ve always known about Scotland. I’ve got my gran, auntie, two uncles and two cousins in Langholm and other than the past year I’ve been up 15 years on the bounce to see them around the time of the Common Riding and I’ve competed in the Games as well.”
Other Borderers included in the 2012 squad are: Greig Laidlaw (Jed-Forest), Kelly Brown (Melrose), Geoff Cross (Gala) and Ross Ford (Kelso).The squad will gather at St Andrew’s on Monday, January 23, before it is trimmed ahead of Scotland’s opening game of the championship against England at Murrayfield on Saturday, February 4.
Meanwhile, four young Borders players have been included in Peter Wright’s Scotland under-20s training squad ahead of their Six Nations campaign. Gala trio Chris Auld, Russell Anderson and Gary Graham will be joined by Jed-Forest’s Andrew Nagle in the 40-man outfit.