Hawick’s Nikki Walker drafted in for Stirling tie

Edinburgh winger Nikki Walker lines up at outside centre for home club Hawick today. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Edinburgh winger Nikki Walker lines up at outside centre for home club Hawick today. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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Eleven years since he played his part as Hawick won the double, Nikki Walker will once again pull on the famous jersey of his hometown club in the RBS Premiership encounter against Stirling County this afternoon.

In 2002 when they added the cup to the league triumph with a 20-17 extra-time win over Glasgow Hawks at Murrayfield, Walker was an up-and-coming 20-year-old with the Greens.

Since then he has played for the Border Reivers, the Ospreys, Worcester Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby and earned 24 caps for Scotland.

Fast forward to the present day and, with the 31-year-old not in the Edinburgh squad for last night’s encounter with the Scarlets, he will turn out for Hawick as part of the pro draft.

Walker will line up at outside centre against County at Mansfield Park and Hawick head coach Phil Leck said: “It is great for us to have Nikki involved this weekend. Everyone knows that he is a local lad and this week he has trained with us on Tuesday and Thursday and looked really sharp.

“His experience on the park will be key for us with so many young players in our squad and a good performance can help ourselves and help him push himself back into the Edinburgh starting line-up.”

In recent weeks there has been a lot of talk about the use of pros by the club sides and the advantages and benefits of the system.

Leck added: “I can only talk from my own experience, but the pros who we have had released to play for us so far this season have been first class. They have come down, trained hard and really helped the other guys. For example we have had young Rob McAlpine each week in the second row and his performances just get better and better.”

Despite having Walker and McAlpine available Leck has had his share of selection headaches this week with up to eight first-team members still out injured.

Going into this one the Greens have won one from five and sit in ninth while County have two wins from five. They travel south today with another Scotland cap taking centre stage, Duncan Weir starting at 10 as he continues his recovery from 
injury. Scotland under-20 cap Ruairidh Leishman also returns to the second row in place of Craig Deacons.

The two head coaches – Leck and Graeme Young – know each other well having both been part of the Scotland club international panel last season.

The top two meet at the Greenyards with second-placed Melrose hosting Gala in a highly anticipated clash.

Talented youngster Blair Hutchison is free from university commitments and starts at outside centre for the hosts with Ross Miller coming into the second row. Australian hooker Todd Pearce is added to the bench for Melrose after arriving from Eastwoods.

Gala have Edinburgh pros Grayson Hart and Ollie Atkins on the bench and a fairly settled starting XV.

Edinburgh Accies are in third and they make the short trip to Goldenacre to take on Heriot’s.

At Old Anniesland, Glasgow Hawks have Robbie Houliston and Angus Hamilton making their starting debuts for the club.

They are taking on an Ayr side who have Dean Kelbrick on the sidelines with the centre resting an injury while Murray McConnell gets the nod this week at scrum-half.

At Rubislaw, Aberdeen Grammar face Currie with Fijian Peceli Nacamavuto back for the hosts after a tour of duty in the Falklands.

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