Steve Lawrie believes his dramatic call-up to Scottish rugby’s summer tour squad is partly down to spending the past season helping coach Premiership outfit Heriot’s.
Whenever commitments to the Edinburgh pro team he re-joined two years ago from Doncaster Knights permitted the 29-year-old hooker, one of nine uncapped players for the triangular tournament involving hosts South Africa, Italy and Samoa, was to be found at Goldenacre.
“The coaching job started as a means of giving me a focus while I was injured but by the end I was convinced it had played a part in making me a better player,” said Lawrie, adding: “The messages you get from coaches at Edinburgh have to be delivered to the club players and when they start coming back at you with questions it makes you think more to justify what you are doing.
“That leads to a fuller understanding. Definitely, helping coach Heriot’s made me a better player.”
Lawrie’s recovery from knee damage which sidelined him for just over a year came in the home festive fixture with Glasgow and once again a rivalry with Ross Ford which had started at under-21 level resumed.
The challenge of Andy Titterell, another Lions’ hooker, also had to be confronted but Lawrie maintained his self-belief, fuelled by some knowledge of what it is to make history in a Scottish jersey.
That occured five years ago when part of the first Scotland sevens team to beat mighty Fiji, at Murrayfield, while this year he was part of the A team which completed back-to-back victories over England for the first time.
“Goodness, there have been highs and outstanding memories but rugby is about opportunities and how you take them. You don’t think about national selection.
“Rather, you focus on selection for your club with anything else at the back of your mind. But it (a national call-up) is a carrot to get you where you really want to be.”
To that end Lawrie quit Edinburgh in 2009 for two seasons with Doncaster Knights in the second-tier English Championship where he gained the rare accolade of a Scotland
A cap from that tier of rugby as the United States were dispatched 25-0 at Galashiels.
“Doncaster was right for the sake of getting game-time and (then Edinburgh coach) Andy Robinson agreed.
”The plan was never that I needed to come back but Edinburgh are my local club and I’m very proud to have played the games I have.
“I benefitted from getting regular games with Doncaster.”
Described by Scotland coach Scott Johnson as “a top bloke” as well as a highly accomplished player there is no doubt that qualified PE teacher Lawrie is a deep thinker on rugby which comes across when outlining his approach to hooking.
“You need to be pretty thick skinned if you want to be a pro rugby player especially in Scotland where there are two teams.
“The nature of it is highs and lows.
“Hooker is a pressure position where you train with the back rows for speed and have the responsibility for throwing in at the line-out.
“If things don’t function there is it the hooker’s fault. As I say you’d better have a thick skin.”
Doubtless there was some good natured banter flying around, too, when Lawrie told fellow organisers of next month’s Hunter’s Residential Edinburgh ten-a-side tournament which brings clubs from around Europe to Raeburn Place that he wouldn’t be around.
“The first people I told were fellow organisers Jonny Jenkins and Chris Hunter with a call along the lines of ‘I’ve some good news and bad news’ for you.
“But I’m sure they understand this is an opportunity not to be turned down and the challenge now is to make the most of it on tour,” said Lawrie who happened to be born exactly midway through Scotland’s 1984 Grand Slam campaign.
Backs: Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors), Tom Heathcote (Bath Rugby), Peter Horne, Ruaridh Jackson (both Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh Rugby), Sean Lamont, Peter Murchie, Henry Pyrgos (all Glasgow Warriors), Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors), Duncan Taylor (Saracens), Greig Tonks and Tim Visser (both Edinburgh Rugby)
Forwards: John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors), Johnnie Beattie (Montpellier), Kelly Brown (Saracens, captain), Geoff Cross, David Denton (both Edinburgh Rugby), Alasdair Dickinson (Sale Sharks), Ross Ford, Grant Gilchrist (both Edinburgh Rugby), Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors), Jim Hamilton (Gloucester Rugby), Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), Steven Lawrie (Edinburgh Rugby), Moray Low, Pat MacArthur (both Glasgow Warriors), Euan Murray (Worcester Warriors), Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan), Tim Swinson and Ryan Wilson (both Glasgow Warriors).
Saturday, June 8: v Samoa (King’s Park, Durban, 1.15pm BST)
Saturday, June 15: v South Africa, (Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit, 4.15pm BST)
Saturday, June 22: Match to determine final placings (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, either 1.15pm or 4.15pm BST)