Exciting young rugby talents Darcy Graham and George Horne can light up the Commonwealth Games next month, according to Scotland Sevens head coach John Dalziel.
The 20-year-old Edinburgh Rugby winger and 22-year-old Glasgow Warriors scrum-half are two players highly regarded by Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend.
They both have Scotland Sevens experience behind them and are among a group of six pro team players – along with Glenn Bryce (Edinburgh) and Glasgow trio Matt Fagerson, Ruaridh Jackson and Lee Jones – who have been made available for the event in Australia on 14 and 15 April.
Graham came through the ranks at Hawick and has amazing pace, while Horne learned his trade at Howe of Fife, Currie Chieftains and Glasgow Hawks and has a very sharp rugby brain and an incredible engine.
Dalziel, who has worked with both of them at age-grade and sevens levels, said: “Young Darcy is a remarkable individual talent. He’s doing what he’s probably been doing in the streets of Hawick growing up and just loves the game and running with the ball.
“That’s the dynamic he brings and George is exactly the same. They’re both very confident flair players. They can create something from nothing and in the modern game of sevens you really need that, especially with such good defences. It’s good for all the other youngsters out there to see what they can learn from such players.”
Dalziel feels fellow young player Fagerson can use his Gold Coast selection to speed his rise to a full Scotland cap.
Fagerson, the 19-year-old back-row who has been in top form for the Warriors of late, has been in extended Scotland squads as recently as the Six Nations. Such is his talent, Dalziel believes it will not be long before he joins older brother Zander in the full Scotland squad under the tutelage of Townsend.
“Matt Fagerson is a lad who is destined for a huge career,” said Dalziel. “We’ll look back in a few years and say that part of his making, as a full international, was his inclusion in these Games.
“He brings real dynamic power to the forwards, which we don’t have. He’s a very talented kid who played a lot of sevens as a youngster.
“He’s going to be a big, big player for the full Scotland team in years to come.
“The squad we’ve named is a sign of how seriously this is being taken, 100 per cent.”
At the other end of the age and experience scale are Lee Jones and Ruaridh Jackson.
Jones is 29 and the Games in Gold Coast will be his third, while he has eight full Scotland caps. Jackson, 30, has not played international sevens since 2006, but has 31 full Scotland caps. Dalziel, explaining their inclusion, added: “Lee has been in the Scotland squad as 24th man recently, so Gregor has looked at him and rates him. We [Dalziel, Townsend and Warriors’ head coach Dave Rennie] had a discussion about everything and for Lee to compete in his third Commonwealth Games was the right thing. He brings real experience. He can take the team out of the bubble of just rugby. We’re part of a bigger team in the shape of Team Scotland and he will impress that on the guys.
“Ruaridh is a classy operator and he gives us a right-footed kicker for restarts. He has really good experience of running a line. He was quite an easy pick for us. If you look at some of the tries he’s been creating and scoring for Glasgow, they are very relatable to what he could do on a pitch with seven bodies there.”
Dalziel will have the 13-man squad together from Monday onwards and they will play in Hong Kong before travelling to Australia.He confirmed that Olympian Mark Bennett was considered for selection, but it was felt more beneficial that he stayed with Edinburgh for their important run-in.
On day one in the Robina Stadium in Australia, Scotland will play Papua New Guinea, Malaysia and South Africa in the pool stages.
Day two will turn into knock-out rugby when the medals will be won and lost over an exciting few hours.