Currie star Andrew Binikos today savoured his role in a world record rugby achievement as he prepared to help the club defend its RBS Premiership status during a vital home clash with Heriot’s at Malleny Park tomorrow.
The utility back has recently returned from helping Cyprus post a 79-10 win over Bulgaria in Paphos, which brought an 18th consecutive triumph and placed them alongside Lithuania in terms of unbroken international success.
On April 25 the Cypriot team – known as the “Moufflons” after an indigenous horned sheep – are due to travel to Hungary attempting to extend the run.
However, Binikos insisted it is impossible to look that far ahead with even a crucial Currie encounter in which they try to avoid being dragged into a relegation play-off while Heriot’s attempt to reach the top four and qualify for the British and Irish Cup only part of the reason.
“The first thing to say about the win over Bulgaria when I earned my 13th Cypriot cap is that it was good to provide a little bit of good news to set against the terrible economic happenings.
“Unfortunately it was inevitable that rugby would become caught up in the events.
“All the sponsors have understandably said they can’t put money into sport, while the economy is in the situation it is in and nobody knows how this will affect a rugby team that has had two promotions since starting out seven years ago to climb the rankings.
“Who knows what will happen internationally, but I do want to do my best to help Currie win tomorrow.”
Currie coach Ally Donaldson today broke off preparations to pay tribute to Binikos.
“Andrew has come back from two broken legs and everybody in the club is so proud of his international achievements. When he first accepted an invitation to play for Cyprus he was proud, but I don’t think even he realised just how much he would enjoy his experiences at that level.”
One of Binikos’ fractures – he was given his Christian name by Cypriot/Greek parents on account of being born on St Andrews’ Day, incidentally – came when representing Cyprus against Israel in a tournament hosted by Georgia.
It sparked a tortuous time eventually resolved with his transfer back to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
“That injury came not long after the Cypriot team was established and we didn’t have time to think too much about insurance matters. It’s better now.”
The chance to play the likes of Azerbaijan – “the beds were so dirty in our hotel we couldn’t begin to think about sleeping” – came about as a result of a chance meeting in South Africa, where he turned out for Natal against Blue Bulls alongside World Cup winner Francois Steyn.
“One of my club mates was called up by Cyprus and after I told him my eligibility the next thing I knew I was in the squad as well,” he said.
Now 30, Binikos added: “I know I am nearing the end of my international career, but I am still involved helping coach the seven-a-side team and I’d like to take that through to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year.
“I don’t know where the country will be by then, but I do know at some stage the rugby authorities will have to start fund raising. To keep in the loop will mean doing well for Currie, but there are other pressures so I’ll just have to see what happens.
“Fortunately my immediate family and myself aren’t directly affected by the economic troubles.”
Currie have been forced to make two changes from the side selected for last weekend’s postponed clash with the same opposition.
Edinburgh prop John Houston has been called into Scotland’s sevens squad and Steve Burton is unavailable.
Alan Whittingham and Andy Adam step into a squad that has Liam Draycott at full back after spending much of the season on the representative sevens circuit.
Still missing are Jamie Forbes, Simeon James, James Johnstone, Fergus Scott, John Cox, Jonny Gray and Mike Vernal.
Cameron Ferguson, Jason Hill and CJ Osazuwa regain starting berths for Heriot’s.