Stirling County’s new captain Struan Robertson cannot wait to lead his team out at Bridgehaugh for the first time this afternoon when they take on Melrose in the BT Premiership.
When former skipper Alex Moffat retired in the summer, local boy Robertson was delighted to be asked to lead the side in 2014/15 by head coach Graeme Young.
The 26-year-old back-row has been involved with County since he was a junior and, despite Moffat and four other senior players calling it a day and Stuart Edwards moving to Heriot’s, he is content with the squad that remains at Bridgehaugh.
They started the league season with a good 25-18 away win at Boroughmuir, and now they welcome current champions Melrose to their home patch.
Robertson said: “Last week the start was a bit shaky, but I think that was because everyone was over eager.
“Once we settled things down we played some good rugby and I believe it is the first time a County team had won at Meggetland for a long time.
“We took a lot of confidence from the win into training this week, and home games are always special. But given it is my first at Bridgehaugh as skipper, it is extra special for me.
“People may look at our squad and think it lacks experience, but although some of the boys are still in their early 20s they have played a lot of top team rugby, while we are a close-knit bunch. So we absolutely believe we can compete in this division this year.”
Over the summer, 26-year-old Italian second-row Matteo Minari joined the club and the experience he has had with Viadana in the pro ranks should be invaluable to the County pack.
Exciting back-row Aubrey MnCube also joined from Falkirk, while having Glasgow Warriors EDP Ali Price at scrum-half is a big boost. He missed all of last season through injury and he is hungry to show what he is all about, while former Scotland under-20 cap Reyner Kennedy will be looking to make the hooker role his own having been in Moffat’s shadow for a few years.
Rory Hughes has been made available on the wing and starts in place of Craig Robertson.
Melrose, who defeated Edinburgh Accies last week, move back-row Andrew Nagle to centre, with Neil Irvine-Hess recovering from injury and starting at number six.
Their head coach John Dalziel said: “We are very aware of the challenges Bridghaugh and this new-look Stirling side will bring and we know we have to be up a few levels from last week, if we are to get the desired result.” Glasgow Hawks and Ayr both got off to winning starts last weekend and it should be an interesting contest between the two sides.
The match is being played at Balgray, with the main pitch at Old Anniesland unavailable, and the home side bring David Milne in at centre after he did well off the bench against Heriot’s.
Ayr, looking for revenge for last year’s Scottish Cup quarter-final defeat, bring in former Hawks player Gavin Lowe at stand-off.
Currie were the other team to get a win under their belts in week one and today they face a tough trip to Gala.
The visitors will have Scotland cap Kevin Bryce at hooker, while Gala will have his international team-mate Grayson Hart on the bench along with Edinburgh Rugby’s USA winger, Brett Thompson.
Edinburgh Accies take on Boroughmuir in an Edinburgh derby at Raeburn Place, while Hawick entertain Heriot’s at Mansfield Park in Nikki Walker’s first home match in charge as head coach.