Ruaridh Jackson’s experience and clever rugby brain will make his transition into the Scotland Sevens squad for the two big events over the next fortnight a lot easier, according to team-mate Jamie Farndale.
Jackson, a stand-off/full-back in the 15-a-side game, has not played international sevens since he was a teenager, but he is one of seven pro players who are part of John Dalziel’s squad for this weekend’s World Series event in Hong Kong.
And then the 30-year-old Glasgow Warriors playmaker will be one of those who will then head on to Australia and the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Aberdonian Jackson has 31 full 15-a-side Scotland caps and has had two spells with the Warriors as well as playing for Wasps and Harlequins.
Farndale believes Jackson will be an asset for the squad as they go looking for glory.
“Ruaridh is a very experienced rugby player with a good brain and the guys around him will help him out,” he said.
“He will be surrounded by a lot of guys who have played a lot of sevens and even the other pro guys coming in like George Horne have played with us quite recently.
“It is up to us to help the newer guys and sevens is different to 15s, but Ruaridh’s experience will help him and I think it will be great to play alongside him and in training over the last week we have been tapping into his knowledge.
“Having Hong Kong first up is incredible, a massive opportunity. We have a bit of a new look to the squad, but this event will allow them to bed in.
“Coming together in Hong Kong will give us momentum ahead of Gold Coast.
“In sevens it is all about knowing your systems well and that comes down to experience. Systems are really key especially when you are knackered, that understanding and trust in systems gets you through. The new guys have been working hard to get up to speed and I am excited to see how things gel.”
And having tasted a multi-sport Team Scotland environment at the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2011 on the Isle of Man, Farndale cannot wait to get to Australia.
“For us as sevens players, being part of a big team effort and contributing in any way we can to Team Scotland is what we want to do when we get to Gold Coast,” he stated.
“We are wanting to be part of the most successful overseas Games for Scotland. That would be fantastic and anything we can do to help the overall team we will do it.
“As a sevens squad we always seem to perform best when we are under pressure a bit and when we have something to aim for and goals.
“We are all athletes who have that competitive drive so having something to aim for is certainly not a bad thing.”
To be in with a chance of a medal on day two of the Games’ sevens next Sunday, Scotland know they have to defeat all three of Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and South Africa on day one.
Farndale said: “We play Malaysia first [in the pool stages] and we will have a look at some footage on them.
“PNG we have played a few times on the World Series, they were in Australia and New Zealand earlier this year. It’ll be two tough games and we will do our homework.
“And we know South Africa well, we have played them a lot over the years including in the final of London back in 2016 when we won. We know we can beat them, we know how they play and it should be a good contest.”
The Hong Kong Sevens runs from Friday to Sunday with the Commonwealth Games event on April 14 and 15.