IT WOULD be a foolhardy person to predict nothing but blue skies ahead for the Scotland team as experience tells us that dark clouds are never too far away.
There is nothing wrong with a bit of positivity and optimism but the cold, hard reality is that at the increasingly competitive elite level of Test rugby the natural state of a Scotland rugby player is to struggle rather than flow.
He is a great guy with a connection with a large majority of the squadDuncan Weir on Nathan Hines
Glasgow stand-off Duncan Weir believes the addition of Nathan Hines to the coaching team will help the squad cope better with the slings and arrows that are bound to come their way.
Vern Cotter has added the 77-times capped former lock forward, who suffered his fair share of low points with the national team as well as some incredible highs in a long and distinguished career, to his backroom staff.
Weir is certain that Hines’ experience of the rollercoaster of emotions that come with being a Scotland player will provide a source of strength.
“He will be beneficial to the team, especially if there are dark days in a Scotland jersey,” said the 24-year-old. “When we have to dig ourselves out of a hole he will be there as he has done it himself in the past. Recently he has just hung up his boots, so, mentally, he is the latest to be in that position to help us on, as he has been there.
“He is in the perfect position to get us into good shape mentally to deal with such challenges coming up to the World Cup.”
Hines was with the squad at the recent conditioning and team-bonding camp in southern France and Weir said: “I hadn’t really met him before – just once when I was with the Glasgow Thistles aged 17 or 16.
“When he played in Perpignan he played in the Glasgow Thistles session there. I was a spotty teenager and he was a superstar. He has been great and has an outstanding rugby CV. He is a great guy with a connection with a large majority of the squad. To get his knowledge in a coaching role is great.”
After returning from the arm injury that kept him out of the Six Nations just in time to play a part in Glasgow’s charge to the Guinness Pro12 title, Weir said he is feeling fresh and relishing the build-up to the World Cup, which steps up a gear next month with the start of the four warm-up games.
“As soon as the disappointment of the injury came about I targeted the end of the season and got five, six games back so I achieved my target and was over the moon when we won the title,” said Weir.
“It is the best I could have done. Being a rugby player you want to start every week but when you play a contact sport like rugby we are going to pick up knocks. I was just delighted to win the title. Being a Glasgow boy winning a championship with my home club was great.”
Weir is surrounded by Warriors team-mates in the national set-up and revealed that Josh Strauss, the South Africa-born back-rower who becomes eligible to play for Scotland just after the World Cup starts, has settled in well.
The stand-of, who has 18 caps, said: “Josh knows more than half of the boys, the Glasgow boys and old team-mates like John Barclay and Ruaridh Jackson. He has got on well with everybody like he usually does. It does not cause any conflict. You see how hungry he is and wants to make this journey a success.”
The collective journey towards the World Cup continues, and Weir said the intensity is steadily building.
After a short seven-day break, which consisted of “five rounds of golf for me”, Weir returned to the training camp at BT Murrayfield earlier this week and explained: “We now have a three-week block of training before that first warm-up Test [against Ireland in Dublin on 15 August]. More rugby will be fed in to make sure we are firing on all cylinders.
“I like both getting the ball in hand and the physical side of training too because you need to go to a dark place to come out the other side.
“The squad is coming on leaps and bounds fitness-wise and that leads to a better chance of playing at a high tempo when it comes to game situations.
“The World Cup is just round the corner so it is a case now of making ourselves better as individuals and as a team. We have to improve our skills, lower our error count and be more clinical. The training today was sharp and a good step forward. It will be good to be tight as a group as we know every other team will be striving to improve for the World Cup.”