Rugby duo in fine shape for trip to New Zealand

Callum Hunter-Hill, left, and Ben Robbins. Pic: SNS
Callum Hunter-Hill, left, and Ben Robbins. Pic: SNS
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Capital youngsters Ben Robbins and Callum Hunter-Hill both believe the last few months spent playing in BT National League One has helped prepare them for their upcoming trip to New Zealand.

The duo will be heading off to Christchurch at the weekend after they were unveiled as the latest recipients of the John Macphail Scholarship.

They will spend 15 weeks playing for clubs in the Christchurch area and will receive specialist coaching from Canterbury RFU.

It is hoped the experience will help them follow in the footsteps of the likes of current Edinburgh Rugby and Scotland duo Grant Gilchrist and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, who undertook the same trip in the past.

Since leaving George Watson’s College last summer, winger Robbins, 18, has been at Edinburgh as a development player and, since recovering from injury at Christmas, has turned out for Watsonians and Scotland under-20s.

Second-row Hunter-Hill, who turned 18 in February, has been playing for Stewart’s Melville since leaving Stewart’s Melville College last summer and he is just back from playing for the Scotland under-18s in France at the Rugby Europe event.

Robbins said: “I was frustrated to be injured during the first half of the season, but the game time that I have had with Watsonians since Christmas has really helped me get used to senior rugby.

“By playing those matches it helped me to step things up a notch when training with Edinburgh or playing for the under-20s in the Six Nations.

“At Watsonians, I have been lucky enough to work with coaches like Marcus Di Rollo, Jason White and Barry Stewart, who all have Scotland caps under their belts while Conan Sharman also has a wealth of experience.”

Hunter-Hill, whose Stewart’s Melville side just missed out to GHA in the battle for second spot in the league, added: “At first, the step-up to club rugby from school rugby was quite noticeable and it took me a while to get used to.

“Thankfully, the guys at Stewart’s Melville have been great with me and the more experienced players have helped me learn as I have gone along. I have loved being able to turn out for the club.”

Robbins, a talented athlete, was victorious in the New Year Sprint at Musselburgh in 2013.