Kelly Brown today welcomed international colleague Greig Laidlaw to the Aviva English Premiership and insisted the move would have a positive spin-off for Scotland.
Ahead of returning to the national side as captain for Saturday’s Six Nations clash with France at Murrayfield, open-side flanker Brown took time out to digest the possibility of turning out for his Saracens club against Laidlaw’s Gloucester next season.
“I think it is going to be very exciting for Greig,” said Brown of the half back from whom he gathers the Scotland captaincy reins this weekend.
Brown, who joined Saracens from Glasgow in 2010, added: “Greig has obviously been at Edinburgh for a number of years and loved his time here. But it is a good time to change, to experience a different environment, a different league with different players.
“The switch helped put me in the position I am in today of looking forward to captaining Scotland again. It also gives someone else a chance at Edinburgh.”
Grayson Hart, Sean Kennedy and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne are the players lining up to contest the scrum half berth when Laidlaw moves to a club who have made it clear they expect to take advantage of his ability to play stand off, too.
“With Scotland having only two (professional) sides it is not a bad thing that players leave as it then opens up a slot for young Scottish players to come through,” said Brown.
That isn’t always the case with Edinburgh, in particular, keen to cast a recruitment net abroad and not always for Scots-qualified individuals. Nevertheless, Brown said: “When I went to Saracens it opened up a chance for Rob Harley to come through and so it can be a good thing for Scottish rugby.”
Although currently out of favour with the Scotland coaches, Harley has five caps and, aged 23, can be expected to come again at international level.
As to what Laidlaw can expect, Brown, who had two years at the now defunct Border Reivers and three at Glasgow before moving south, said: “The big difference is that it is a very attritional league in England. That and the competitiveness also.
“You need to be on your game every single week or else you are going to lose. That is the thing I like – the challenge, the physical challenge because there are a lot of big men in the Premiershipn Gaining that experience of a different league can only help you as a player.”
Reaction to Brown’s recall two matches after being dropped from the squad entirely has ranged from surprise to sheer incredulity both in Scotland and at Saracens where local reaction was summed up by one post on a fan forum: “Please, if Scotland don’t want Kelly can we have him back every week?”
Brown and coach Scott Johnson have referred to the list of aspects that had to be improved with the latter on record saying the player would only be considered as an open side flanker.
How, though, has Brown managed a quick return when, of the three appearances he has made back at Saracens, approximately one and a half have been at open side with the remainder on the blind side of the scrum? “It was just general things I was told I needed to work on and improve, the things I am constantly working on in training every day.
“That is what I did. I went away, kept on working hard and felt I was improving,” said the Edinburgh-born player.
As for Saturday’s opponents, whom he has faced five times without success, he noted: “After the first two matches everyone was tipping France for the Championship, so they are a very dangerous side.”