Rugby: Currie use Mikey Erskine in title bid

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As the only one of six prop forwards on duty for either side at Malleny Park not to have played professionally or at age-group international, level it would have been easy for Mikey Erskine to have displayed an inferiority complex.

Far from it. The heavyweight prop – he weighs an eye- watering 23 stones – was at the heart of a 20-7 Currie victory over Boroughmuir which puts them back in the Premiership rugby title race.

Afterwards, Erskine pledged to build on a performance that comprised two sterling shifts off the bench, one of which enabled Currie to use his considerable bulk to run down the clock by retaining possession.

“Towards the end we wanted to keep it tight at the back of the rucks and, using my larger frame, the plan was to get in front of our pack with the ball in hand and draw the Boroughmuir forwards in.

“For those last five minutes we were trying to keep the ball and provide a good platform and having made a contribution I’m determined to get more opportunities while trying to lose a bit of weight,” said the 27-year old office manager for Senergy oil and gas consultants.

Super-heavyweight Erskine was a crucial element in a contest which saw Currie defeat their local rivals for the third time this season. Ball carrying apart, he was able to hold his own in distinguished scrummaging company.

With Boroughmuir given dispensation to use Edinburgh’s up-and-coming props Robin Hislop and Lewis Niven on either side of ex-Borders, Edinburgh and Newcastle hooker Sean Crombie, it was akin to respite for the home front row when Erskine arrived on the scene in shifts.

Likewise, it was tactically astute by the home coaches to introduce him on the drive close to breakeowns late on when Boroughmuir were desperate to build on a try by Jamie Swanson but just couldn’t get hands on the ball.

Being given an opportunity has also seen Erskine, who joined Currie as an eight-year-old and has spent all his career there apart from a few years when he moved to Biggar, aged 15, pledge to make a significant life change.

“I played a couple of games when we won the league for the second time in 2009-10 but I know for an extended run I’ll have to lose some weight while retaining my strength.

“If you want to call me ‘big-boned’ that’s fine but the reality is I’ve taken on a personal trainer in Andy Barnet.

“A nice fighting weight of 20 stone would be ideal!”

Currie coach Ally Donaldson paid tribute to Erskine, saying: “Mikey is a great club man wiTh a fantastic attitude.

“He knows himself he has got to be fitter and to his credit he is working on getting into better shape.

“Mikey played his part and we were absolutely delighted to beat a really strong Boroughmuir team with academy and pro players as well as having Malky Clapperton (ex- Edinburgh) back from injury.

“We had to do it, too, despite losing stand-off Andy Binikos with a dislocated shoulder after 20 minutes, and when re- organising after our rhythm was upset. We gutsed it out in spells with a flanker on the wing, and a scrum-half at stand-off.

“There was a helluva lot of character shown by us.”

It certainly seemed that Currie had been galvanised by the influx of the Edinburgh pros into the Boroughmuir team – stand-off Harry Leonard also turned out – and used the situation as a spur, but Erskine insisted: “When there are professionals on the pitch, and we were glad to have Chris Leck from Edinburgh, it makes you work a wee bit harder to push yourself a wee bit more.

“Overall, though, we focused on ourselves and doing the basics well.”

It was appropriate that all Currie’s points came from their best player, full back Jamie Forbes, with five penalties and a try from a charged down kick which was the turning point according to Boroughmuir coach, Fergus Pringle.

“In a very physical game individual mistakes at crucial times swung it the way of a very good Currie side. We knew at 0-6 that we had to start second half well and conceding a try straightaway made it more difficult.

“Jamie Swanson’s try (off a scrum pick up) gave us hope and if we could have scored again then it might have been different but we didn’t get the quick ball we wanted.”

Indeed, Boroughmuir were so often on the back foot that their main tactic was a cross-kick, albeit well executed, by Harry Leonard but that was far too ineffective to dent this increasingly confident and spirited Currie side.

Scorers: Currie: Try: Forbes. Penalties: Forbes (5). Boroughmuir: Try: Swanson. Conversion: Warnock.

Currie: J Forbes, B Mansfield, J Johnstone, A McMahon, A Whittingham, A Binikos, R Snedden, J Cox, F Gillies, C Philips, S Marcell, G Temple, M Cairns, R Weston, M Entwhistle. Subs: F Scott M Erskine, A Best, M Peacock, C Leck.

Boroughmuir: A Warnock, S Visser, M Clapperton, S Wilson, J Webster, H Leonard, S Johnston, R Hislop, S Crombie, L Niven, M Harvey, G Scott, N Rodger, I Moody, A Rose. Subs: C Mackintosh, N Fraser, J Swanson, M Crawley, H Jones.