Johnstone out to impress as Co-Ops tackle Accies

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Up-and-coming Currie three-quarter James Johnstone will have an ideal platform to further his dream of a pro rugby career when lining up for the Co-Optimists Select against Edinburgh Accies at Raeburn Place tomorrow (kick-off 1.30pm)

The 21-year-old is fighting his way back from a shoulder injury, as demonstrated with an outstanding performance in Currie’s latest British and Irish Cup match with Nottingham.

“After the shoulder problems, just getting a run of games is important,” he said. “I’m pushing as hard as I can with the intention of putting myself in contention for opportunities at pro level.”

It helps that Johnstone, a Heriot-Watt University student who is attached to the Glasgow Warriors academy, can play centre or wing, the position in which he has recently found himself at alongside familiar colleague, Dougie Fife, another rising star due to turn out for the Co-Ops tomorrow.

Johnstone added: I’ve played centre a few times as well and hope to play there in future more regularly, but at the moment it is going well. Dougie and I are feeding off each other but the entire Currie back-three players are combining well, too.

“We were pretty disappointed with the result against Nottingham (16-23) when there were a few things we could have done a bit more accurately. But, overall, we’re pleased with the way we have handled ourselves and we now have a platform to work from in trying to get back into the Premiership title race.”

Currie will certainly need to hit the ground running because, with seven games remaining, they trail Melrose by nine points and lie fourth.

But Johnstone believes experience gained over the past month can help Currie leapfrog runners-up Gala and third-place Dundee, neither of whom have had the benefit of B & I action. After that, Currie will rely on an anticipated dog-eat-dog type of competition to get them back in the hunt. “The B & I Cup (for which the top three Premiership finishers qualify) has been great for our whole team,” said Johnstone.

Meanwhile, Accies will be looking to sharpen up for a quick return to the top flight when they re-start in Premiership Group B.

Co-ops team: Jamie Forbes (Currie), Callum Anderson (Aberdeen), Dougie Fife (Currie), Danny Gilmour (Stirling), James Johnstone (Currie), Gregor Hunter (Gala), Richard Snedden (Currie), John Cox (Currie), Sean Crombie (Boroughmuir), captain, Alan Brown (Dundee), Murray Douglas (Aberdeen), Rob McAlpine (Stirling),Greig Ryan (Aberdeen). Ross Weston (Currie), Andy Rose (Boroughmuir). Subs:Neil Dymock (Dundee), Gary Mountford (Stirling), Fraser Brown (Heriot’s), Scott Sutherland (Ayr), Chris Cumming (Dundee), Andy Dymock (Dundee), Rory Hutton (Hawick), Mike Doneghan (Stirling), Stuart Edwards (Stirling).

n A MINUTE’S silence will be held at Raeburn Place in memory of former Edinburgh Accies winger Richard “Bumpy” Porter who has died, aged 45.