Edinburgh Rugby’s Rory Sutherland may have only been involved in the Rugby World Cup for 48 hours – but the experience has left the ambitious prop craving more exposure to the big time.
The 23-year-old loosehead was in his house last Friday afternoon getting ready for that evening’s Guinness Pro12 clash with Ulster at BT Murrayfield when he received a call out of the blue from Scotland team manager Gavin Scott.
Scott was informing him that head coach Vern Cotter wanted him to join up with the national squad ahead of the quarter-final clash with Australia after injury to Ryan Grant.
Given that Sutherland – who burst on to the scene with Edinburgh last season having made his name with Hawick, Biggar and Gala – had not even been in the extended Scotland squad in the summer it was a surprise to many.
However, it was not to those who have watched his progress over the last 14 months or so in the professional game, and he has started this season in cracking form.
He may not have made the matchday squad at Twickenham on Sunday, but memories from the weekend will stay with the uncapped forward.
“I was sitting at home waiting to head off to the Edinburgh match when I got the call about half an hour before I was about to leave,” Sutherland recounted.
“There were a lot of mixed emotions – when I first got the phone call I couldn’t believe it. I quickly had to switch my attention from getting mentally prepared for the Ulster match to concentrate on getting a bag ready and phoning my family to tell them about the call-up.
“I must have paced the house for 15 minutes wondering what to do, but it was so exciting to get the call-up. It gives myself a lot of confidence to know that I am tinkering on the edge of the Scotland squad and it also makes me more hungry getting a taste of what it is like.
“Being part of the extended squad that headed to Twickenham for such a big match was good, really good. I mean even about a mile away from the stadium there was thousands of people cheering us – a brilliant experience.
“I couldn’t even hear myself shouting in the stands at Twickenham during the match, the atmosphere was that good.”
After his brief sojourn south, Sutherland has been back at BT Murrayfield this week preparing for Edinburgh’s match at Zebre in Italy on Saturday.
Edinburgh travel with four wins from four to date in the league and he believes the buzz around the players is as good as it has ever been.
He explained: “The Edinburgh camp is really positive at the minute. The boys are building up confidence, as you do when you win six games on the trot. Beating Romania and Ulster in pre-season really helped as did beating Leinster in the first week and we have gone on from there.
“Training is going well, there is a positive attitude about the place and the boys are firing on all cylinders.”
Indeed the players are performing so well that Sutherland feels that the returning World Cup players – including new signing John Hardie – will have to work hard to earn places in the starting XV in the coming weeks.
Of the Scotland players only Sutherland and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne are likely to be involved this weekend with Grant Gilchrist and Stuart McInally injured and WP Nel, Ross Ford, Alasdair Dickinson, Hardie, David Denton and Matt Scott given a rest.
“Boys are going to struggle to get back into the team to play. We have shown incredible strength in depth in the squad in the past four games and in pre-season, so it is going to be tough for the boys to get back in,” Sutherland concluded.