Scotland Under-20 stand-off Ross Thompson says he is ready to take on the challenge of the upcoming World Championship “head on” – and it is perhaps unsurprising that he is a determined character given the sporting stock which he comes from.
The 20-year-old is currently in Argentina as Carl Hogg’s side prepare for their Pool 4 opener in the showpiece event against South Africa in Rosario tomorrow.
Thompson’s grandfather Eric Thompson, who passed away in 1992, was recently inducted into the Scottish Cricket Hall of Fame after a stellar international career between 1965 and 1977.
One of only two Scotland players born in the Orkney Islands, he was one of the best seam bowlers to come out of this country.
He took 107 wickets for Scotland.
Thompson’s cousin Kirsty Gilmour, 25, is a double Commonwealth Games medallist in badminton.
Neither Thompson nor Gilmour were born in time to meet their grandfather, but last month they were both at The Grange in Edinburgh as the cricketer was rightly added to the Hall of Fame during the first Scotland v Sri Lanka One Day International.
No doubt Thompson, who is playing in his second World Championship, will take a lot from what he has learned from his grandfather and Gilmour’s careers into this tournament, with the Scots in a tough pool also including New Zealand and Georgia.
“We talk a lot about playing at speed and being smarter, they are the two things we have focused on since the Six Nations,” Thompson, the Glasgow Hawks man, said.
“So, much like the full national team, we need to be physically fit and have good skills to be able to do that.
“You can play the most expansive game but if you can’t land a five-yard pass then it just won’t work so we think a lot about playing under fatigue and under pressure.
“The hardest thing about a World Championship is going straight from a game to a three-day rest and then to another big game. The turnaround is tough between such physical games. You have to be able to recover quickly and not over-train. We have to be able to hit the ground running, these are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and I am ready to face it all head on.”
Last year in the World Championship, Scotland were coached by Bryan Redpath, but now the man at the helm is his former Melrose and Scotland team-mate Hogg who, after the event, will take up a role with the Ospreys in the Guinness Pro14, but there is no doubt he has had an impact on the young players he has been working with this year.
“I think Carl Hogg has instilled quite a lot of confidence into us, certainly for myself. When I was struggling with my confidence ahead of the Six Nations he helped me greatly,” said Thompson, who is from Edinburgh and studying for a part-time law degree in Glasgow.
“We all buy into the style of rugby that he wants. When you think about playing at speed you can over-complicate things, but really it is just about doing the basics and the easy things well repetitively.
“Ball presentation is key so the nine can get the ball away quickly and then everything else stems from there.
“We have made massive progress and to play South Africa and New Zealand back-to-back is exciting as a young rugby player. If you can’t get excited for games like these then you never will.”