Rising star Scott planning to be centre of attention with a Gala performance

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As Matt Scott thinks back over the last year, it is no surprise that he affords himself a smile, writes Gary Heatly.

Twelve months ago this weekend, the raw youngster was scoring one of Currie’s tries in a 46-7 league thumping of Heriot’s.

Now he is a fixture in the Edinburgh side in the RaboDirect Pro12 and Heineken Cup and is in line to make his Scotland A debut against the England Saxons on Friday evening at Netherdale in Galashiels.

“Things happen quickly in sport, but I couldn’t have imaged the year I have had,” he said.

“When I joined Edinburgh in the summer as an elite development player, I just wanted to work on my game and try to get a few matches under my belt in the first team when other guys were away with Scotland at the World Cup.

“However, myself and other younger players like Grant Gilchrist have managed to keep our places in the squad throughout the season and it really has been such a great few months for myself.”

Having played mainly at stand-off for Currie, the 21-year-old seems to have found a niche at inside centre in the professional game and has become a key component of the exciting Edinburgh back line who all look comfortable with ball in hand.

Scott, who was recently handed a new two-year contract by the capital outfit, admits: “The style of play we have at Edinburgh really suits me. I love getting the ball in my hands and, when we are all on the same wavelength, we have put together some really good rugby. To qualify for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals has been great and the buzz around the place after beating London Irish last week was incredible.”

Given his whirlwind 12 months, it is perhaps just as well that Scott has a sensible head on his shoulders and is not getting too carried away with everything that has happened.

A former head boy at Currie High School, he has been juggling his ever-increasing rugby commitments with a law degree at Edinburgh University over the last few years.

Even last week, while other Edinburgh players were jetting off for a mini break or relaxing during their time off, Scott had his head in his books ahead of finishing his studies in the summer.

This week, though, his thoughts will be fully focused on Friday night’s Scotland A match in the Borders and he admits playing in that one would just top off a year of achievements – and set him up for a bright future.

“There is only one A match to impress in so I have to grab this opportunity with both hands. The coaches and selectors, from Scotland down the way, have shown that they are not scared to give youth a chance and it is up to me to put in a good performance,” said Scott, whose only previous match against England was at under-20 level in a 27-6 defeat in 2010.

As well as Scott, his Edinburgh team-mate Tom Brown, Newcastle Falcons prop Grant Shiells and Glasgow Warriors hooker Pat MacArthur look set to debut at A level on Friday.

Other youngsters looking to continue to make a mark at this level are Edinburgh back-row Stuart McInally, who has two A caps, and Glasgow Warriors back row Ryan Wilson.

In 2011 Scotland A won the two matches they played against Ireland and Italy and new head coach Michael Bradley and his assistants Craig Chalmers and Stevie Scott will be keen to see that run continue. The last time Scotland and England met at this level they drew 6-6 at Bridgehaugh, Stirling, a decade ago.

Players selected for Scotland A to face England Saxons (on Friday, 3 February at Netherdale, Gala, at 7.30pm, entry free): Tom Brown, Jack Cuthbert, Alex Grove, Peter Murchie, Henry Pyrgos, Matthew Scott, Colin Shaw, Johnnie Beattie, Chris Fusaro, Roddy Grant, Ryan Grant, Pat MacArthur, Stuart McInally, Grant Shiells, Ryan Wilson. The squad will be supplemented by players from the Scotland training squad early in the week.