Rugby: Edinburgh legend aids try-scoring debut

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Edinburgh RUGBY rookie Dougie Fife has hailed support from the squad’s most experienced player when reflecting on a try-scoring Rabo Direct Pro 12 League debut.

The 21-year-old centre, a product of Firhill High School, became the ninth up-and- coming to be blooded by Edinburgh this season as Ospreys were encountered at Murrayfield and, hopefully, foundations are being put in place to ensure success in qualifying for the Heineken European Cup quarter-finals is a regular occurrence.

Others to have been given a first opportunity so far in 2011-12 are 20-year-old flanker Hamish Watson, 21-year-old wing/full back Sep Visser, whose debut was at mighty Munster, scrum half Alex Black (21), stand off Gregor Hunter (20), prop Robin Hislop (19), stand off Harry Leonard (19), hooker Alun Walker (21) and centre Matt Scott (21).

Arguably the most successful breakthroughs so far, though, have come from Matt Scott, who scored a try on his debut for Scotland A earlier this month and is now being touted as a genuine Six Nations contender, also Harry Leonard with his three European Cup starts.

However, Fife is the first to manage a try-scoring first appearance while the man-of-the-match award for the Currie-reared centre was the icing on the cake. It was a stunning night’s work by any standards but Fife believes his task was made more straightforward by guidance received from full back, Chris Paterson, winner of 109 Scotland caps.

“All the lads were very supportive but Chris Paterson talked to me all through the and helped give me confidence. The main thing Chris said is ‘if in doubt back yourself and have a go’ which is what I tried to do. Having that sort of experience on hand really helped and Chris has so much energy that he is one of the first out and last back in training, a really good professional.”

It was a case of ‘everything comes to he who waits’ for Fife, who graduated to the Edinburgh side via nine appearances for Scotland under-20s and an extended run with the national sevens squad. Fife, who joined Currie from Boroughmuir after playing for Scotland under-18s added: “The boys said when I came into the Edinburgh squad from the National Academy that if I was patient my chance would come along. Daily training as well as with Currie meant I knew how Edinburgh like to play and during the week I was filling in for (the injured) Matt Scott during training runs.

“It was the day before the game that I knew I’d be involved and I was quite nervous but looking forward to it as well. It wasn’t as if the moves or the structures Edinburgh play were brand new and I just tried to get involved as much as I could.”

This was borne out by the circumstances surrounding Fife’s try in just 18 minutes. Moments earlier he was observed going to ground to secure possession on the opposite flank before quickly re-grouping to get up in attack as Phil Godman (twice) and Alun Walker combined to provide the scoring pass.

“There was a bit of basketball from Alun as he knocked the ball backwards to keep the move going and that showed just what a skilful player he is. The move itself was quite ugly but the ball came to me and I just jumped on it to go over.”

The occasion proved bitter-sweet with Edinburgh going down 14-15 but a philosophical Fife, who has posted six Premiership tries for Currie this season, said: “Ospreys are second in the league and not there without a reason. The plan was to win and in professional rugby winning is everything so I’m really disappointed but hopefully other chances will come soon.”

Edinburgh are back in action on Saturday night at Dragons in the first of three successive away games during the Six Nations. And it promises to be a stern test with the Newport side contributing a few players to the Welsh international cause at present although, as Edinburgh have shown, the Test window is yielding rich dividends in terms of developing star prospects.