Heriot’s rugby skipper Jack Turley believes his team will reach the defining point in their title-chasing season when they tackle Hawick in the Premiership at Goldenacre tomorrow – hoping for an eighth consecutive victory.
“It’s the first of three successive games against Borders opposition, so we will certainly know where we are at after what we have acknowledged is a special block of fixtures,” said former New Zealand schools cap Turley, who added: “First of all we have to tackle Hawick and that is followed by a home game against Melrose, who are the only team to have beaten us so far.
“Waiting further down the line are Gala, whom we just edged out at Goldenacre with a late comeback and they’ll be particularly keen on revenge.
“We won’t be looking past Hawick, though, because they are a big rival from away back and their passion for the game is well known.”
Rather than return home with his injury, Turley resolved to remain and repay the club for their support and assistance during time out.
“Heriot’s and particularly physio Sandi Lyall have been terrific, including phasing me back to playing.
“I’ve got a five-year visa and want to make the most of it and the way Heriot’s are playing certainly helps.
“It was a massive honour to be asked to captain Heriot’s.
“This season, I suppose winning has just become a habit borne out by the fact we have shown an ability to squeeze out wins in tight situations and also put the foot to the throat of rivals when the opportunity arises.
“I think we are getting stronger too as newcomers such as Liam Steele, Keith Buchan, Alex Henderson and George Turner start to settle into the style of play; also, the past two games have seen the return of Max Learmonth after injury and he has picked up where he left off scoring tries.”
Scotland clubs’ internationalist Learmonth has notched vital touchdowns on each occasion as Heriot’s got home by a single score margin against Aberdeen and at Glasgow Hawks.
“The only problem for us is that the more we keep on winning the more opponents see us as a potential scalp,” said ex-Canterbury under-21 star Turley adding: “We know we are there to be shot at, but it helps to have some depth for when injuries occur.
“For example, prop Nathan Borrell has been around the club for a while but he’ll get a chance against Hawick which I’m sure he’ll take.”
In keeping with his carefully-planned return, Turley will cover the back five scrum positions from the bench on a day when Cameron Ferguson, Craig Owenson, George Turner and Chris Mulligan all reclaim starting berths.
With one-time Heriot’s stand off Rory Hutton out for the season Hawick are able to recall Ally Weir at stand off while Shawn Muir is fit to resume at prop after missing last week’s win over Currie.
The length of the division separates Currie from Melrose whom they host tomorrow.
The Malleny Parkers make a single change with Adam Alexander coming in at centre and Alex Penman moving to the wing while Callum Kerr drops to the bench.
The other Capital Premiership side, Edinburgh Accies, will be at London Scottish in the British and Irish Cup.
Edinburgh winger Jamie Farndale returns to the starting line-up for an Accies side bedevilled by injuries.
Centre Ewen Campbell (ankle) and stand off Alex Blair (neck) are among the casualties so Ruairidh Bonner starts in the pivotal role and Chris Dean steps in at centre.
Making a first appearance in the squad is Australian second row Alex Toolis, a recent Edinburgh signing.
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that prop Dave Bates and Tom Drennan have long-term injuries, while the latter’s back row colleague Andrew Findlater will be out until the new year.
In the National League, Boroughmuir bid to reach the halfway stage with a 100 per cent record when they visit GHA.
Unavailable for ’Muir will be Greig Scott which means Thomas Docherty moves into the second row with Neil Rodger returning from injury at blindside flanker and Joni Hare reverting to open side.
In the backs, Robert Cairns moves to full back for the injured Craig Marshall and Ross Bradford slots in on the wing.
Standing by to make a top team debut for Watsonians at Inverleith is back row Daniel Henry and hooker Matt Brierley is fit again.
However, powerful prop Danny Moussa, a go-to ball carrier this season, misses out after sustaining a head knock.
Stewart’s Melville will be bidding for a fourth straight win in climbing to fifth in the table.