Burns is focused on victory salute

GRAEME BURNS is determined to go out in style in what could be his last appearance in Edinburgh Rugby colours against Glasgow tonight.

Burns is set for a new role as a coach next season, but has also been asked by the SRU to become the key player in helping up and coming players make the transition to the senior squad.

"Subject to funding I’ve been offered an exciting and unique role working with the new generation of Gunners," said the 32-year-old internationalist in making a plea to get off the bench at some stage to bow out in the appropriate manner against the oldest rivals in middle tier rugby.

Former scrum-half Burns, burst on to the representative scene in the early 1980s, added: "Through the efforts of Jim McKenzie (chief executive) I’m being lined up as Edinburgh Rugby’s link involving up-and-coming players and also strengthening bonds with the traditional club scene.

"Fortunately Ian McGeechan (SRU director of rugby) sees merit in Jim’s scheme and under proposals favoured by Murrayfield my regular involvement will be over but in being available only on an ad hoc basis priority will lie in coaching and captaining a back-up squad for next season.

"Also, I will be responsible for undertaking clinics on half-back play around the Edinburgh clubs."

Capped four times, Burns is looking forward to passing on his experience.

He said: "What would make my new assignment even more exciting is a winning springboard tonight having had so many highlights with Edinburgh including in the pre-professional days.

"It was good to be part of the side which won the last amateur inter-district series.

"Also, appearing in the first European Cup campaign before sharing in a Shield win in Biarritz a year later were special moments that remain with me.

"Having been around a bit maybe that is why some people have been kind enough to suggest younger players have been known to look up to me and I suppose it is inevitable that something has to rub off from a playing cv that includes facing the All Blacks in New Zealand with Scotland."

If Burns can prove even half as effective as a mentor as when donning playing kit the Gunners back up will be well served, but already he is pointing to what could possibly be the way ahead at a time when the debate is again raging over the governing body/super team relationships.

"I can see a case for the likes of Edinburgh to be freer to make their own decisions while remaining convinced that communication can resolve most dilemmas," he said.

"And while franchising has been mentioned perhaps what would help most is creating a third way where by interested parties sponsor the acquisition of new talent or even the rugby Academy itself."

What Burns, a former Edinburgh captain, is certain of is that the Capital team are advancing rapidly in terms of preparations.

"Having come through the entire professional era from beginnings where almost everything that could go wrong did, the training regimes cannot now be faulted.

"Every season I have trained harder than the one before and that is partly attributable to the knowledge that has been gleaned in terms of knowing exactly when to peak."

Which leads Burns nicely to the need to peak so as to sign off successfully in the final home match of 2003-04 for the team and for himself altogether.

"This has been a bit of a rollercoaster season with some especially good rugby in the early part when everyone - and particularly the first season pros - were fresh in filling in for World Cup men. But there is a big performance left in us to give to the fans who have been supportive throughout."

Doubtless these same fans will be thinking identical thoughts about the stalwart that is Graeme Burns.

Meanwhile, Glasgow coach Hugh Campbell has warned his side will be going all out to thwart Edinburgh’s send-off party for Burns in putting emphasis on points that will ensure they join the Capital as Scotland’s two representative in the Heineken European Cup at the expense of Borders.

"It is going to be an extremely tough encounter with both teams having a fair bit to prove," said Campbell.

"It has been tight all season but we are playing pretty well once again and it should be a real cracker of a match as both sides like to play expansive rugby and get some width to their game."