JONNY Gray will turn out in the RBS Premiership this afternoon, which will delight Currie but has annoyed opponents Aberdeen GSFP after they were denied the use of their talented young lock due to Scotland under-20 selection.
Gray, this week named as Scotland A captain, is returning from injury and to help improve his match fitness Scotland asked Currie if he could play in their crucial relegation battle with the men from the north-east. He is scheduled to lead out Scotland A against the England Saxons at Scotstoun next Friday and is in Scott Johnson’s thoughts for a Six Nations place if he comes through these tests.
However, the move has angered Aberdeen after their talented lock Andy Cramond was asked to step down from club rugby this weekend in order to rest ahead of the under-20s Six Nations, which kicks off in Ireland on Friday night. Currie also have Edinburgh forward Sean Cox playing today while Aberdeen – who lie bottom of the table, one point behind Currie, with four games left – have no available pros, despite their linked club Glasgow having no game.
Naming his team, Aberdeen GSFP coach Kevin Wyness said: “Despite being the only Premiership club with no pros or EDP players available and Andy Cramond being withdrawn on instruction from the U20 management, we look forward to this crucial match against Currie.
“Training has been energy-filled and very positive this week and the squad know what’s at stake and are buzzing about the challenge ahead.”
That comment, however, drew the ire of the SRU, who issued a retaliatory statement yesterday. It read: “Sean Lineen [Scotland under-20s coach] has not told Aberdeen Grammar that they cannot pick Andy Cramond.
“Andy Cramond is not a Scottish Rugby [SRU] contracted player. He has made a decision that as he is in the Scotland under-20 squad who open their international programme against Ireland under-20 next Friday – and that he played in the Scotland under-20 match against the Scotland Club XV at Gala on Wednesday night and felt sore at the end of that game – that he would not be available for the Currie v Aberdeen Grammar rugby game.
“It has been a long-established protocol of which all RBS Premiership clubs are aware that members of age-grade international squads generally do not play for their club the week before an international match. From what we can see, no-one in the current Scotland under-20 squad has been named in a Scottish Premiership club starting team this weekend.
“Jonny Gray has been out injured since November. It is in the player’s interest and the interest of the Scotland A team that he will captain next Friday that he gets some game time before he leads Scotland A against England Saxons. Currie chose Jonny Gray in the pro-player draft – the same pro-player draft at which Aberdeen Grammar made their choices last August – and thus Jonny Gray will be involved for Currie this weekend.”
Wyness responded: “I don’t want to get myself or Aberdeen in trouble with the SRU, but while the two pros that have come to us this season, Gordon Reid and Fraser Brown, have been absolutely first-class, we have not had them often while some clubs have had pros regularly. It’s not an easy system, I accept that, but I have learned that the pros make a significant difference to their teams so when you have two in one side and none in the other there is an inevitable imbalance.”