Currie begin their second British and Irish Rugby Cup campaign at Leeds tomorrow on the back of some timely assistance from ex-Scotland coach Frank Hadden.
Last season’s Premiership runners-up have been swift to take advantage of experience and insight available from Hadden, below, who lives on the same side of the Capital as their Malleny Park ground.
Experienced prop John Cox, one of the few Currie players who knows what it is like to face Leeds having turned out against them during an English Championship stint at Rotherham five years ago, says: “In an unannounced move head coach Ally Donaldson arranged for Frank to take charge of training on Tuesday this week.”
Since being replaced as Scotland supremo by Andy Robinson two years ago, Hadden has kept a relatively low profile, rugby-wise, apart from stints helping develop rugby in the likes of Mongolia and Rwanda as part of IRB or Penguins charity initiatives.
To Mongolia and Rwanda can be added Malleny Park with Cox insisting: “Frank’s session was mainly analytical and conducted at a slower pace than the physical work supervised by Graham Hogg and the intensity of Ally Donaldson’s training.
“Having watched a few of our matches this season Frank has been providing input based on points he has picked up on.
“The contrasting approaches of Frank, Ally and Greco (Hogg) complement each other really well and we are now thinking more about spacial awareness and spreading across the pitch.
“The insight brought by Frank will be invaluable, I’m sure.” Another innovation this week has been the involvement, latterly, of some professionals and a couple of props borrowed from Premiership outfits as Currie try to combat an injury crisis before flying the flag for the Scottish club game.
Says Cox: “Incredibly, we have already used 36 players (in 11 matches) so we are particularly grateful for assistance both in terms of personnel and a video of London Scottish playing against Leeds.
“By including half backs Chris Leck and Gregor Hunter alongside centre John Houston, who missed Thursday night’s training with a heavy cold, we’re hoping to benefit from understanding in midfield developed at Edinburgh Rugby.
“Finlay Gillies has returned from Glasgow to hook and as an ex-Currie player we know him well while both additional props, Struan Cessford (Heriot’s) and Neil Dymock (Dundee High) bought into our approach as did the Glasgow second row Rob Verbarkel.
“With so many newcomers we aim to keep our style uncomplicated which is often the best way in any case.”
Meanwhile, Cox, who works with MAS Mortages and Property in Edinburgh, is not letting his focus slip from tomorrow’s meeting with opponents who have won their last five games but he does admit the tournament scheduling has done Currie few favours with their next game on Friday.
“Not only are we at going up against an Edinburgh v Racing Metro fixture in the Heineken Cup at Murrayfield but our B&I Cup match at home to Ulster only allows us a five-day turn-around in terms of preparation. Ulster is a huge fixture at Malleny Park.”
n MELROSE host Bedford in the B&I Cup tomorrow at The Greenyards, kick-off 2pm.