TOILERS, grafters and steely nuggets have been pretty common, but genuine finishers rare in Scottish rugby over the past decade.
So, when a winger comes within inches of a try against South Africa in the Republic on his debut, and follows up by scoring twice on his first start at Murrayfield, there is every reason to hope that the arrival of Tommy Seymour in the Scotland ranks bodes well for the future.
The 25-year-old was born in the smash hit city of Nashville, Tennessee, but has been something of a slow burn at Glasgow since his move from Ulster two years ago.
He does not have the sheer speed of Sean Maitland, the silkiness of DTH van der Merwe or the power of Sean Lamont, and so may not be viewed as the stick-on that Tim Visser was before his untimely leg-break. But when the alarm sounds as Glasgow or Scotland launch into the final third of the park, Seymour invariably shows up.
He has scored 11 tries in 36 appearances for the Warriors (27 of them starts), and has played second fiddle to Van der Merwe in the scoring stakes, but he stepped out of the Canadian’s shadow at the weekend in finishing two opportunities against Japan with aplomb, and the American in him will enjoy that.
“It was a huge occasion for me, and to play in front of a Murrayfield crowd was something really special,” he said. “To go out and get two tries was something I’ll never forget. Jacko had done as much work as he could [for the second] with a nice pass to me and I managed to get round the guy and keep my feet in.
“But there were some cracking tries from others too, and to come back from their scores and get our own tries to stay in front was very positive.”
Seymour is a selfless player, a hardy competitor who will chase anything and everything, and that also comes across in his enthusiastic rapidity of speech. But although his Test debut has come relatively late in life, he is no naive kid. He understands the game and brings a maturity to Scotland’s back division that pleases head coach Scott Johnson.
“When they [Japan] got back to within one point after 50 minutes, it was about keeping cool heads and we went out and stamped our authority on the game and regained the momentum,” he said. “We knew the capabilities they had, great skillsets and a lovely passing moving team, so we knew the threat, but we’re happy with that end result.
“Some of the defensive stuff we weren’t happy with, but what happened will have reaffirmed the areas we need to work on, and with the attack stuff there were some lovely scores so we can take confidence that we can score tries if we are patient and use the hands the way we are capable of. So there is a lot to be positive about and to take into the coming weeks.
“All in all, six tries is a good return and you’re not going to be cursing yourself too much when you get that on the scoresheet. For me, it showed that if we are patient and use the hands we are capable of good rugby. There’s a lot to take into this week.”
Seymour’s emergence is timely given the injuries to Visser and Stuart Hogg and Peter Murchie, which has pushed Maitland to full-back, but if the hard-working Warrior continues his upwards spiral – and he was one of Scotland’s top performers the last time they met South Africa – he could prove to be difficult for others to shift.
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