Newly-appointed Heriot’s captain Jack Turley has resisted the lure of a clash with Gala for his comeback from injury, and will instead watch from the sidelines when the sides meet on RBS Premiership duty at Goldenacre tomorrow (3pm).
The Kiwi, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament in only his third game for the club, underwent an operation last November and is now almost ready to return to the fray.
“I had been hoping to get back in time for the first home game but next week was the date I was working to. After nine months out, there is no point in rushing it,” he said.
He will join coach Phil Smith in the technical area as Heriot’s look to bounce back from defeat at Melrose last week with a starting XV side in which the only change is a call-up for Max Nimmo in place of Harry Boisseau.
Looking ahead to the visit of Gala, Turley said: “It’s our first home game and it’s a big one for us. We will be looking to right that wrong from last week. Back in New Zealand, there is no league structure but I’ve learned how important it is to get four points. Last season a few games slipped through our fingers. We know we need to start accumulating points.”
Of his appointment as captain, he added: “Phil pulled me aside and asked me for my thoughts about it. I was absolutely stoked. It’s a very prestigious position and I am honoured and chuffed to be Heriot’s captain. I am very proud.”
Turley believes his side can secure a top-four slot and could challenge for the silverware if they consistently play to their potential. The Goldenacre side will be looking to reproduce the flowing game that became their hallmark last season, although the skipper does not want to see risky rugby. “There is an obvious style that we aspire to but that doesn’t mean we will play an unstructured game,” explained the 24-year-old, who was involved in coaching the younger players at the club during his rehabilitation. “But we know what we are capable of and we will back ourselves when we think it is on.”
In an otherwise unchanged side, Gala coach George Graham has drafted in Lewis Bertram to replace Luke Pettie, who broke his leg in last week’s win over Currie, who welcome Stirling County. Coach Ally Donaldson will be without No. 8 Ross Weston, who cut his knee in training. Mike Vernal drops back from lock to occupy a back-row berth. Donaldson was disappointed that his players had been unable to convert pressure into points at Gala last week, but said: “We will have learned a lot from the experience and our young players will be all the better for it.”
Elsewhere, Edinburgh Accies will be looking to build on last week’s win over Glasgow Hawks as they visit Aberdeen Grammar. Coach Jonny Else has the luxury of naming an unchanged starting line-up, with the only squad change a call up to the substitutes’ bench for Andrew Findlater.
An intriguing Capital derby takes place in the RBS National League where Stewart’s Melville and Boroughmuir, both impressive opening day winners, meet. The hosts go into the match as the only team in the top two divisions to avoid conceding a point last week, and adding to the intrigue will be a return to Inverleith in ’Muir colours for former StewMel players Alex Cox and Joni Hare. Watsonians travel to meet Selkirk.
In Championship League B, Haddington host Jed-forest, and Murrayfield Wanderers head for the Borders and a meeting with Hawick YM. Livingston face Howe of Fife, Lasswade welcome Aberdeenshire to Hawthornden, and Musselburgh host Kirkcaldy.