Rugby: Flying Kiwi's city switch can bear fruit with title win

TOP SCORER Johnny Smith today insisted he'd swap every one of the 88 points Currie notched in hammering tomorrow's opponents Selkirk earlier this season if it meant scraping through the reciprocal fixture in the Borders tomorrow night.

The Philiphaugh clash will evoke memories of a personal milestone for the Kiwi utility back, who was central to the previous 88-3 romp with an individual haul of 33 points on the way to an aggregate 260 so far, including nine tries.

But 31-year-old Smith, who arrived at Currie just after they had captured the Premiership One crown in 2007, is keen to see the team's current lead converted into another title.

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They can do that by remaining unbeaten on a three match run-in which includes a visit from the only other contenders, Ayr, to Malleny Park on 1 May.

Smith said: "It doesn't matter who we are playing or in what weather conditions, Currie are always happy to get through by whatever margin so long as it's a win. Coach Ally Donaldson has been drilling home to us the fact we are so close now that every outing is our cup final and we've come too far to slip up."

Donaldson himself undoubtedly had in mind the fact that Currie started season 2008-09 with a defeat at Selkirk when he said: "Selkirk have beaten every team in the league at Philiphaugh over the last two seasons. We know how difficult a prospect this will be."

James Johnstone, Ally Hamilton and Jamie Thomson return to the starting line-up after the 57-14 win over Boroughmuir in midweek.

Such strength in depth has been crucial for Currie and Smith added: "The good thing is we are building something for the future and, while I was initially intrigued to see how under-20 caps Matthew Scott, Dougie Fife and Alun Walker would fit in being so young, I needn't have worried. I've been blown away by their form all season.

"Our Colts meet Dumfries at Murrayfield in the final of the under-18 championship on Monday so it is also important to maintain the feelgood factor that is around the club for their sakes as well as keeping the pressure on Ayr.

"With Ayr having more games to play than us, every time we win it puts pressure on them to respond, and the last thing on our minds will be to look beyond the Selkirk match and a meeting with them a week later."

A title winner with the Pukekohe club in his home province of Counties-Manukau whom he represented against Southland and King Country before travelling to Europe , Smith is desperate to add a Scottish championship to his CV, having been introduced to the Malleny Park club by ex-Currie player Gary Millington, who was his coach in New Zealand.

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He said: "I was sorry to miss out in 2007 but every season the club has grown and, if they want me to stay, there's every chance I'll be around next season."

Currie will no doubt be equally keen to have Maori winger Willie Moala, who notched his 23rd try of the season against Boroughmuir after being set up by the slick handling of Smith entering the line from full back, return along with second row Ryan Wilson, another Kiwi with Scottish connections, who has added to the forward presence.

Smith added: "One of the features of this season has been the way nearly every chance has been taken and, before Ryan arrived, we didn't have too many tall timbers up front.

"Some people might be suggesting we are close to burnout with this being our third game in eight days but the buzz is as strong as ever and I'm glad to have played a part, although the job isn't done yet."

Meanwhile, Heriot's and Glasgow Hawks will battle it out for fourth place and possible entry to the British and Irish Cup at Goldenacre (kick off 2pm). Hawks start with highly-rated Scotland under-19 stand off Duncan Weir on the bench where he is also due to occupy a spot for Glasgow against Leinster in the Magners League tonight.

Currie team: J Smith, W Moala, J Johnstone, A MacMahon, C Kinloch, G White, R Snedden, J Cox, A Walker, A Hamilton, A Adam, captain, R Wilson, S Burton, R Weston, J Thomson. Subs: N Scobie, A Reekie, G Temple, M Entwhistle, D Fife.