Flexible Oli Kebble ready to play on both sides of the scrum to help Scotland

The intricacies of playing in the front row are beyond the grasp of most observers but Oli Kebble is being asked to develop his expertise on both sides of the scrum.

Oli Kebble played at tighthead for Scotland during the Autumn Nations Series. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)
Oli Kebble played at tighthead for Scotland during the Autumn Nations Series. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

The Glasgow Warriors prop has forged a fine career as a loosehead but the 29-year-old is now being seen as an auxiliary tighthead by his country.

Scotland used him off the bench in this position during the autumn Tests and he could have a similar role to play in the Six Nations, which kicks off with a home game against England next month.

“It is quite difficult in terms of specialising on both sides but I am happy to put my hands up wherever the team needs me,” said Kebble. “I am happy to play on both sides and it is a good learning experience. It will make me a better player in the long run.”

Switching from loosehead to tighthead is not without its challenges and Kebble admitted that moving from one side of the scrum to the other took a bit of getting used to.

“You are using a completely different side of your body,” he explained. “There is pressure coming from both sides where you have the hooker and the loosehead on you.

“When you are at loosehead you only have the tighthead on you. There is a lot more pressure and you are kind of anchoring the scrum as opposed to attacking it when you are at loosehead.”

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Gregor Townsend, the Scotland coach, wanted to try Kebble at tighthead in the summer only for Covid to kibosh the idea.

“There was definitely a conversion before the summer for me to give tighthead a go for the England A game and the summer tour which unfortunately got cancelled,” said the prop.

“Then we gave it a crack in the autumn internationals which was a good experience for me and made me more equipped on that side. It is an on-going conversation and whatever I can do to be on the field for Glasgow or Scotland I will play anywhere.

“I played a bit for my under 20 side and a couple of games for the Stormers at tighthead so it is not completely foreign but definitely something that needs time in the saddle and does not just happen overnight.”

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