Rugby: Games call-up can aid search for new club

Scotland rugby forward David Callam was today tipped to use his Commonwealth Games sevens selection as a springboard back into the professional game.

The 11 times-capped Callam has been named in a 12-strong squad for Delhi, despite having been released by Edinburgh.

He looks likely to go into the new season without a club bracketed against his name.

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But, according to former club-mate and fellow sevens internationalist John Houston, it is a question of when rather than if the 27-year-old returns to the full-time arena with prospective suitors advised to keep a close eye on events on the sub-continent.

"Clubs should be watching Dave closely at the Games if he hasn't been signed before then," is the verdict of Houston, who also says of a player whose 2009-10 campaign was largely wrecked by injury: "It's hard to believe Dave has not got a club and I'm sure he knows this is an opportunity to showcase his talents.

"Dave is an incredible athlete and we don't produce many guys like that.

"To have Dave Callam in our squad is brilliant because it is at kick-offs and re-starts that sevens ties are often lost and won.

"Someone of his size (6ft 4in) and ability in the air is a huge benefit.

"If you are looking for key players then Dave is one."

A pelvic condition meant that the last of Callam's caps came in early 2008 and his treatment has involved rehab at a specialist clinic in the United States.

Although he returned from off the bench in a league match at Llanelli just before Christmas and made five subsequent starts, it is the view of Scotland sevens coach Stevie Gemmell that Callam was playing catch-up, fitness-wise, at a crucial stage when contracts were being decided.

"A lot of the time contracts are sorted out at the end of the (calendar) year which was an unfortunate time for him to be getting over an injury.

"Problems are over now and he's keen to push on.

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"The eyes of the rugby media will be on Delhi because it is one of the biggest multi sports events and that means opportunities for everybody."

The Games are not covered by legislation requiring clubs to release players on demand but, even if Callam finalises a move, he will still be around to pick up on a sevens career which stalled in 2006 at the Singapore leg of the Grand Prix circuit.

"Somebody will pick up David's signature but he has also made a commitment to the Commonwealth Games," added Gemmell.

In fact, Callam stands apart from colleagues as the only full internationalist in the Games contingent.

But of those who represented Scotland in Melbourne four years ago Ross Rennie, Rory Lawson and Al Strokosch went on to reach top level in 15-a-sides.

Having turned out for Scotland A three times Houston admitted that making a similar step up remains a holy grail.

"Nothing has changed in that I still very much want to aspire to a full cap," said one of six Edinburgh players chosen, along with Alex Blair, Lee Jones, Stuart McInally, Scott Newlands and Andy Turnbull.

Of course, the Games coincide with the start of Edinburgh's Heineken Cup bid as well as some Magners League matches especially with Scotland heading out to India early for extra preparation.

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But while club officials are adamant they have the resources to cope Houston stresses long term benefits all round.

"Playing in the Commonwealth Games will be a once in a lifetime opportunity for me as well as a chance to see how athletes from other sports train.

"The aim will be to bring back fresh ideas which can contribute to the Edinburgh cause and help me not only in rugby but as a life experience."

Scotland 7s squad for Delhi

Mike Adamson (Glasgow)

Alex Blair (Edinburgh)

Dave Callam (unattached)

Scott Forrest (Glasgow)

Chris Fusaro (Glasgow)

John Houston (Edinburgh)

Lee Jones (Edinburgh)

Stuart McInally (Edinburgh)

Scott Newlands (Edinburgh)

Hefin O'Hare (Glasgow)

Colin Shaw (Glasgow)

Andy Turnbull (Edinburgh)

Reserves: Struan Dewar (Edinburgh), Peter Horne (Glasgow), James King (Edinburgh), Scott Riddell (Newcastle).

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