Currie coach Ally Donaldson has challenged a raft of club up-and-comings to follow in the footsteps of the latest player from Malleny Park to graduate to the international stage – starting at Melrose in a Premiership encounter crucial to the title-chasing Borderers on Saturday.
When Dougie Fife stepped out against Wales in Cardiff last weekend, he followed the likes of Graham Ellis, Ben Cairns, Matt Scott, Tom Brown and Jonny Gray, who have all have worn the black and yellow of Currie before donning Scotland blue. Donaldson believes Fife’s presence can be particularly inspirational, though, as he shares a specific distinction with Scott, the pair having not been farmed out to the club for experience.
“Neither Dougie or Matt were capped by Scotland at under-18 level but, through determination as well as ability, made it to the top working through our club ranks,” said Donaldson.
“Others will be watching and thinking ‘we can do that’ and these include Harvey Elms, Ruaridh Smith, George Horne and Karl Main, all teenagers who have come into our first team this season.
“Further down the track, Robbie Nairn is a Scotland Under-18 winger who is a massive physical specimen; I expect him to go a long way in rugby.”
Given that Donaldson approached Fife to play senior rugby at Currie en route to a contract with Edinburgh and, after spells in the Murrayfield Wanderers mini-section and the Boroughmuir youth ranks, it was appropriate he should be invited to present the player’s first international jersey.
“I was travelling to the match in Cardiff as a spectator anyway but I’d have made a special journey such was the pride I felt when (Scotland team manager) Gavin Scott called me and asked me to do the honours,” said Donaldson.
“Scotland have a tradition of making a special presentation to a player on the occasion of a debut or 50th cap although Matt Scott’s first appearance was different as he was called on to the bench and then on the pitch after Nick De Luca was injured in the warm-up in Ireland. In the case of Dougie, he had a couple of days to prepare for a day I thought might come not long after he was recommended to me by Murray Craig.
Craig is the former Currie and Scotland A centre formerly a member of the Sports Studies Department at Telford (now Edinburgh) College before transferring to Edinburgh Univesity.
Donaldson added: “Dougie was a student of Murray’s and he spotted real potential. I quickly picked up on the fact Dougie not only had rugby ability but character which came out in his determination, motivation and willingness to learn.
“You didn’t have to ask Dougie twice; he’d do anything asked of him to ensure he became a better player, and he can retain rugby knowledge well.
“Since joining Edinburgh, the physique he now possesses shows how hard he has worked on that aspect.”
While Matt Scott debuted at stand off for the Currie first team on his 18th birthday at Melrose, winger Fife actually broke through earlier.
“I suspect it is slightly easier to get a debut on the wing than at stand off but take nothing away from Dougie who has grabbed every opportunity,” said Donaldson.
That ability certainly transported itself to the professional game when Fife scored a try after a late call-up to play centre for Edinburgh against Ospreys.
A try brace against Munster in only his fourth European match further helped single out Fife and, while difficulties for the Scottish back three in Cardiff were compounded by the early dismissal of Stuart Hogg for charging into Dan Biggar, Donaldson is convinced he will come again with a tour of the Americas and South Africa looming even when rivals Sean Maitland, Tim Visser, Sean Lamont and Tommy Seymour are fit.
Meanwhile, Currie turn their attentions to Melrose this weekend when Donaldson will encourage his side to extend an unbeaten Premiership run to eight matches on a day when the hosts need a victory in order to take the title – and Border rivals Gala to slip up at home to Ayr.
“It is going to be a bit of an ask to beat Melrose having achieved our goal which was staying up after we got off to a poor start.
“Partly it was down to integrating new players and bringing through some youngsters although I never thought it was going to be quite so tough.
“However, we are on a bit of a roll now and, while there is no real pressure, we do want to finish on a high and that can work to our advantage.”
As for further incentives for those aspiring Currie prospects, could this weekend be the start of a journey that takes them to a place alongside Dougie Fife and Matt Scott in the Scotland squad in the not too distant future?