Currie Kiwi Simeon James has shot to joint-top of the Scottish rugby premiership try charts, but the 28-year-old centre insists his priority at Heriot’s tomorrow is to ensure the first half of the campaign ends in a win.
Three tries in four outings, including one in last week’s win over previously unbeaten Ayr, have taken the former Taranaki and Bay of Plenty provincial player – for a spell he turned out alongside subsequent All Black captain Tana Umaga – to five.
But rather than dwell on individual statistics, James says: “Currie are well aware that Heriot’s are dark horses in this league. They have been to Melrose and won which was something beyond us and also got within a couple of points of winning at Ayr.
“So we know we are going to have to be at our best and not in the type of form that saw us out-mongrelled by Gala, our only defeat in the past six weeks and a match that coincided with my dad arriving from New Zealand!”
In fact, James’ father, Steve, was a sufficiently accomplished player to have represented Taranaki at centre against the touring Welsh international side in the 1980s, while his brother, Matt, has played at Neath and Sale Sharks before moving recently to Nevers in France.
So, the pedigree is sound, especially with Umaga adding to his rugby education.
“On the occasions I played for Taranaki with Tana he was at centre and I was at full back.
“It was a dream because he attracted all the tacklers and left holes for others like myself to try to exploit.
“You don’t get to be worth a million bucks in rugby [a reference to the deal that took Umaga to Toulon] without being professional and there was so much to learn off the field from him, too, such as making sure you always turn up at 6.50 for a seven o’clock gym session and what and when to eat.”
Although Currie missed out on the latest British and Irish Cup, James feels that there is reflected glory for the entire Premiership from the way Gala, Melrose and Stirling won last week against, respectively, London Scottish, Doncaster and Neath, while Dundee came close at Swansea. “Having played for a spell at Biggar before turning out for Cinderford in England’s national league, I had a handle on Scottish standards before I arrived at Currie. But the decision to drop from 12 to ten teams this season has definitely improved the intensity as the B&I results so far have shown.”
In attempting to at worst book a place in the top four which will give entry to next season’s cross-Border competition and at best claim a third Scottish title, Currie have relied on a settled side augmented occasionally by pros on release.
“Key to some of our success is the fact that whenever Dougie Fife, Gregor Hunter or John Houston have come into our back division it is as players who have bought into being part of the club and without any sign of ego.”
Houston starts on the bench tomorrow, while Fraser Watts gets a start at prop in front of Simon Marcell who has recovered from a back injury.
Heriot’s have Marc Teague on the bench.