SCRUM-HALF Sam Hidalgo-Clyne says he is relishing the intense battle that is brewing for the national No 9 jersey ahead of the Rugby World Cup.
The 21-year-old Edinburgh player is in the thick of the most competitive positional contest in the pool, with Six Nations skipper Greig Laidlaw, Guinness Pro12 champion Henry Pyrgos and veteran Chris Cusiter all vying for the World Cup squad and coveted starting berth.
Hidalgo-Clyne, who won five caps off the bench in the Six Nations and was named Guinness Pro12 young player of the year last month, said: “Henry had a good end to the season and I love competition which makes me play better and I’m sure it is the same for those other guys. It is exciting times.”
The squad have returned from a week training in southern France and Hidalgo-Clyne was speaking at BT Murrayfield where he was helping hand out the jerseys to the inductees of the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy.
The Edinburgh scrum-half is one of the success stories of the previous elite development player programme and, after enjoying a breakthrough year in which he played a key role in helping his club to the European Challenge Cup final, he now feels at home in the national set-up.
He added: “I just want to make that final squad and work hard and keep pushing for a World Cup spot.
“My Edinburgh debut was two seasons ago in 2013. As an academy player back then I couldn’t imagine myself playing for Edinburgh let alone Scotland as I was too nervous going out training with all the big guys and being around them.
“I had just moved to scrum-half at that stage and at one point I was sixth choice scrum-half at the club and couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. It just shows what hard work and determination can do.”