No room for Harky in new Scotland set-up

Ian Georgeson'07921 567360'Club International, Myreside'Scotland Vs Ireland'Scotland: Fraser Harkness (Selkirk)'Ireland: Barry Keeshan (Dolphin)
Ian Georgeson'07921 567360'Club International, Myreside'Scotland Vs Ireland'Scotland: Fraser Harkness (Selkirk)'Ireland: Barry Keeshan (Dolphin)

THE new Scotland Sevens full-time squad has been announced, and, disappointingly from a Borders perspective, there are no representatives from this area in the 12 named.

Many thought that Fraser Harkness would be included, particularly as he played for the Scottish seven in every tournament last year apart from the England and Scotland legs at the end due to injury.

Former Melrose and Scotland player Graham Shiel is entering his second season of being in charge of the squad, and, like his predecessor Stephen Gemmell, there has been a lot of sympathy for them as they have never been able to get hold of the players that they needed with pro clubs having first claim on them.

But now, a fresh commitment by Scottish Rugby to the abbreviated game has been put in place and the squad of 12 will all be available first and foremost for the national seven, and this has to be seen as a good thing.

There are some known names included, too, with Colin Gregor, Andrew Turnbull and James Eddie in the mix.

Without sounding harsh these three are unlikely to develop their 15s careers much further, so this is an opportunity for them to commit to sevens full time.

The exciting James Fleming and Peter Horne are also included along with Struan Dewar, Rory Hughes, Sean Kennedy, Kerr Gossman, Adam Ashe, Hamish Watson and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, the latter bunch being youngsters who are developing their own game for the future.

Because all of these players are first choices for the squad it will leave little room for outsiders to come in.

Injuries are bound to happen to allow others into the squad, but there certainly won’t be the mass turnover which has existed in the past when upwards of 30 players have been used in the 10 games which make up the IRB World Sevens Series.

However, a shadow 12 will be announced soon, made up of mainly Premier 2 players – it appears Premier 1 club sides are reluctant to release players for the national sevens team – so this will open the door for the likes of Harkness, along with Jed-Forest trio Lewis and Gregor Young and Darren Gillespie, who are very likely to be involved.

Whether there are opportunities to make it all the way through to the squad will largely depend on injuries, but we expect there will be Borders representation at some point.

Elsewhere in rugby, former Peebles and Melrose winger Callum Anderson has confirmed that he will be playing for newly-promoted Aberdeen Grammar.

The 23-year-old Scotland Seven cap has been with Melrose since he joined as a teenager from Peebles and played a big part last season as the Greenyards outfit won the Premier One title and the Kings of the Sevens crown.

However, he has recently secured a full-time post at Dyce Academy to teach design and technology, forcing him to change clubs.

Anderson, who has also won Scotland club international honours, said: “The job is a great opportunity for me and I am looking forward to heading up there next month and getting started.

“Melrose were keen to keep me, but the travelling I would have to do from Aberdeen to the Borders made it impractical. So I will also be undertaking a new challenge in my rugby with Aberdeen Grammar.”