Webster quick to acknowledge Italian input

SIMON Webster is considered one of the quickest and most dangerous talents in the Scotland side, and he owes that to an Italian.

He is hopeful for a change tomorrow in his status as the only Scot to score a try in the current RBS Six Nations Championship, as part of a back-line that has notched 50 Test tries between them.

But there is an irony in the fact that Webster may never have worn a Scotland jersey had it not been for an Italian with a nose for speed. Born in Hartlepool, Webster was playing rugby at Yarm School on Teesside, and struggling to keep up with the pace-setters in the squads.

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"I was about 16, playing inside centre for Yarm and I found I was making a lot of breaks, but I wasn't finishing many of them off because I was getting caught – which was really frustrating," says Webster. "So, through a family friend, I got in touch with a guy called Sergio Peretti, and went with him to the Clairville Stadium in Middlesbrough. We did some speed work and he provided a real insight into what I was doing wrong.

"In the first session we did he said to me: 'There's 50 metres – I want you to do it at 95 per cent. Let's see how you run.' So I took off down the track and at the end I thought that I had been pretty quick and was expecting him to be really impressed. But he told me that I ran like an ape and that it was going to take quite a lot of time. But my speed improved massively from then."

Webster, capped 32 times, added: "I hope we are talking about tries beating Italy. That might not please Sergio, but he wants an Italian shirt – if we win I'll maybe get him one."