TWO young players in particular are looking forward to today’s BT Premiership action for differing reasons.
The Melrose backs have recent experience of rubbing shoulders with legends of the game on their travels but they are also delighted to be playing in a big Borders derby today when they face Gala in the BT Premiership.
Bruce Colvine, 23, skippered Melrose on numerous occasions as they won the title last term and has just returned to the clubs from spells in New Zealand and with Darlington Mowden Park down south.
The scrum-half/full-back has been named alongside the replacements for today’s match and this week, on his return to training, he has no doubt been telling his team mates about the time he shared a pitch with All Black Dan Carter for the Southbridge club near Christchurch in the summer.
Colvine explained: “Southbridge is Carter’s hometown club and during my time out there [with fellow Melrose player Grant Runciman, who is still in NZ] he was making his return to action after a six-month sabbatical away from the game. He played in two matches for the club and it was just awesome to be on the same pitch as him.
“He was a really grounded guy and, after the second match, he stayed behind in the clubhouse and watched an international with us on the TV. It was all a bit surreal, but absolutely brilliant.
“I had a great time out there and it was a good learning experience for me.
“I can use the experience I gained to help Melrose, starting today against Gala.”
Meanwhile, Murdo McAndrew, 20, will start at scrum-half for the hosts at The Greenyards and, after missing the opening weeks of the season, he is now showing the form that earned him a pro chance with French giants Clermont Auvergne between 2012 and this summer.
While in the academy in France, he would regularly be around former Scotland cap Nathan Hines and other internationals at training.
He said: “I loved my two years in France and have definitely come back a better player. With Bruce now back at Melrose and Tom Wilson also a good scrum-half, there is real competition for the No 9 jersey, but we are pushing each other on, which can only help Melrose.”
Over the last three weeks, the Scotland under-20 cap has formed an exciting looking half-back partnership with South African Austin Lockington and he is looking forward to that continuing today.
“Austin is a really attacking player like me and we like to get the team on the front foot as much as we can. Last week, in the 44-43 win over Heriot’s, the team showed just how well we can attack when we get going, but our defence needs to improve.
“I have been told just how passionate the Melrose-Gala derby matches can be and I am sure today will be no different. I am looking forward to it.”
Melrose, of course, pipped Gala to the trophy last season on the final day and, going into this one, are in fourth place.
Gala are top and have not lost since the opening day of the campaign at the end of August. Ayr are just one point behind Gala and will have Scotland prop Ryan Grant in their line-up making his return from long-term injury as they travel to Goldenacre to take on third-placed Heriot’s.
Grant’s international and Glasgow Warriors’ team-mate Ryan Wilson continues his recovery after injury with another outing for Stirling County, who are at Currie. Elsewhere, Boroughmuir host Glasgow Hawks at Meggetland and Hawick travel to take on winless Edinburgh Accies, with the added spice of Accies being overseen by ex-Greens coach Phil Leck.