‘I’ll play anywhere’ says Jamie Bhatti after Scotland recall

Glasgow loosehead Jamie Bhatti says his recall to the Scotland squad is just the vote of confidence he needs to kick his career on.

Gregor Townsend named Bhatti in his 39-man squad. Picture: SNS/SRU

The 25-year-old has racked up 11 caps in the past couple of years but only one start, which came in the loss to United States on last summer’s tour.

Bhatti hasn’t had as much game time as he would like for the Warriors this season, though he could well be released back to his club for this Friday’s Guinness Pro14 match at home to Ospreys, in which he will look to push his claims for more 
Scotland caps.

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“I’ll play anywhere. If I’m involved here I’ll give my all and if I am back at Glasgow I will play as well as I can for them,” said Bhatti after reporting for national duty at the 
Oriam training base.

“It just depends what the coaches are thinking. It all depends on selection. If I’m back at Glasgow I’ll give 100 per cent and if I’m here I’ll do the same.”

Bhatti admitted the season hadn’t quite panned out as well as he hoped but receiving the call from Gregor Townsend has put a spring in his step.

“It has been frustrating. Every player wants to play as much as they can. Sometimes it just comes down to the fact you’re not getting selected so you need to ask the questions why that’s happening and work on those things,” said the prop.

“It is definitely frustrating, but I’m happy to be back involved here [with Scotland]. If I’m given a chance to play then hopefully I can put my hand up again and show why I’m here. If released to Glasgow to play at club level then I’ll do the same.”

Bhatti has struggled to put his finger on why his form has suffered a dip this season.

“It’s a hard one. It just comes down to a few mistakes,” he said. “I had one bad game across at the Kings and from then on I just dropped out of the team and had to try to fight my way back in.

“It’s just the way it is. I’m quite confident that any time I’ve played since then I’ve played well. I think that’s why I’m here.

“Coming into this [Scotland] squad I feel I have been playing well for Glasgow in the games that I’ve played. My confidence is back up there.

“All I can focus on is getting back to the best form I can be. Whether that’s playing for Glasgow or getting an opportunity here. I know I can do it. The [2017] autumn Tests last season and the Six Nations last season, I played every game and I think I played well. If given the opportunity, I just want to put my hand up and show that I’m back and ready to play.”

Bhatti enjoyed a rapid rise after only making his Warriors debut as recently as 2016. He came close to scoring a try in the match against the All Blacks the following autumn and made a memorable charge in the thumping win over Australia the following week. He admits that thrilling burst against the Wallabies was the highlight of his career so far.

“Probably, yeah. Ball carrying is part of my game and I’m really good at it,” said the former slaughterhouse worker from Clackmannanshire. “I know I can do that and, given the opportunity, I want to show I can do it again.”

Asked his response when Townsend gave him the call to say he was included in the initial 39-man Six Nations squad last week, Bhatti was straightforward.

“I said ‘thanks very much’,” he explained with a smile. “I wasn’t expecting it, having not had a good run of games up until the campaign. I got the phone call and I was like, ‘aw, that’s brilliant’. It makes your night and it makes your day. It puts a spring in your step the next day after getting the call.”

Bhatti is viewing the battle for that No 1 jersey in the opener against Italy on 2 February as a fairly even contest.

“We’re all – me, Alex [Allan] and Allan [Dell] in kind of the same boat. We’ve been sitting on the bench, not playing as much,” he said. “I just want to train as well as I can here and show the coaches that I’m ready to go.”