Ruaridh Jackson knows that the game of rugby sevens has transformed completely from 2007, when he last played the shorter game on the international stage, but after getting back in the groove in Hong Kong last weekend he is ready to make his mark on the Gold Coast.
The 30-year-old Glasgow Warriors man is one of six fifteen-a-side pros drafted in for the Commonwealth Games tournament in Australia over the weekend.
Along with Warriors team-mates Lee Jones and George Horne and Edinburgh Rugby players Glenn Bryce, Darcy Graham and Ally Miller, he will try and help John Dalziel’s men get through Pool A tomorrow and then compete for a medal on day two.
On day one in the Robina Stadium, Scotland will play Papua New Guinea, Malaysia and South Africa in the pool stages.
Jackson, 30, is seen as a key playmaker for the squad over the weekend, especially with Gavin Lowe ruled out through injury.
“I played on the sevens World Series for Scotland in 2006 and 2007. That means I’ve got a little bit of experience, but from over a decade ago, and things have changed a little bit in sevens since then,” he said.
“I’ve always enjoyed the game of sevens and always watched it. We used to go down to the Melrose Sevens a lot because that’s where my dad’s family is from.
“This season the Commonwealth Games weren’t really in my thoughts at all. There were a few guys included in preliminary squads and my name wasn’t in the hat then, but then [Warriors head coach] Dave Rennie sat me down one day and asked if I was interested, and it was an opportunity I couldn’t let go past.
“It’s a great thing, being able to represent a bigger Team Scotland. With my age, it’s probably going to be my last chance, so it’s one I want to grab with both hands.
“Since we’ve landed on the Gold Coast you just see the magnitude of the event. It’s something totally different to the Rugby World Cups where you’re in the team hotel, you keep yourselves to yourselves and everything is all about you.
“You’re mingling with athletes from different countries and it’s a pretty cool vibe, something really special.”
Jackson believes that the squad is confident heading into the tournament and have gelled well in training and at the Hong Kong Sevens.
“We’re a confident bunch, a lot of these guys have won tournaments before, we’ve got a captain in Scott Riddell, who has been there and done it all, plus a guy like George Horne who doesn’t know much other than winning,” the man who has 32 fifteen-a-side caps for Scotland stated.
“There’s definitely confidence running through the squad. We’ve got game breakers who can do things and hopefully some older guys that can lead the way. We’re not just here to take part, we’re gunning for that semi-final on Sunday and from there anything can happen.”
Meanwhile, 32-year-old captain Riddell knows the role he has to perform for the team to let them flourish this weekend.
Ahead of an outing in his third Games, the forward stated: “I have a pretty specific role in the team. I am a hard worker, make a lot of tackles, play a lot of minutes and I really relish that. I leave scoring the tries to the young guys and the fast guys.
“It is really important having a strong 13-man squad because the impact off the bench can be massive and change games.
“I am often one of the guys who doesn’t go off, but guys like Jo Nayacavou and James Fleming make great impact off the bench and head coach John Dalziel is good at managing player load.
“I really enjoy working with John, we bounce a lot of ideas off each other. We are both forwards so he is great to learn from in terms of lineout and scrum and even in phase play. He is a good man manager who fills the guys with confidence.
“It is a great wee stadium at Robina on the Gold Coast, it will be sold out and rocking and there will be a number of Scots there to support us.”