ALEX BLAIR has set sights on a return to the professional rugby ranks and tomorrow, at Meggetland, will take another step down the comeback trail when turning out for Edinburgh Accies against Boroughmuir in the RBS Scottish Premiership.
The 22-year-old younger brother of Mike Blair, Scotland’s most capped scrum half, was on a career high three years ago when suddenly he was given as reminder of just how fickle a sportsman’s life can be.
Even before leaving his teens Blair had represented Scotland Sevens at the Delhi Commonwealth Games and the A team in a Nations Cup campaign in Romania. A bright Edinburgh future beckoned, too, after debuting away to Leinster.
However, Blair became increasingly aware of a problem in his lower back which turned out to be a bulging disc.
“I had surgery which involved shaving the disc, which wasn’t altogether successful.
“In order to get back to the position I am in now of being hungry for more rugby and really going for it. I have had fantastic treatment from Andy Boyd, the Edinburgh Strength and Conditioning Coach, and also Stephen Mutch, the Scotland team physio.
“They have really put themselves out to help me after it was feared early on that my playing days could be over.”
As part of his reincarnation, Blair has switched from stand off to full back.
“Accies coach Simon Cross suggested I might really enjoy the space to run from full back,” said Blair. “Part of my previous role was to try to move full backs around the pitch and I am trying to use that knowledge to second guess.”
Blair’s counter-attacking skill shone through as Accies won at Dundee last weekend to set up a match which could see them play their way into the top four and qualify for the British and Irish Cup.
“Focusing on the B&I Cup has been our way of looking ahead rather than at the prospect of relegation,” said Blair, who is part of the same back-line which did Accies proud on Tayside. Up front Robin Snape earns his first start of the year after twice coming off the bench to help nail down recent wins, the injured Ryan Godsmark dropping out.
Also Edinburgh prop Alex Allan is available again and takes over from Chris Murray.
Already relegated Boroughmuir restore regular half backs Sam Johnson and Ally Warnock, while Damian Hoyland and Alex Henderson return from Scotland under-20 duty.
A match of monumental importance to both Currie and Heriot’s takes place at Malleny Park. Hosts Currie are battling to avoid being dragged into a play-off against the National League runners-up while Heriot’s, on their 600th league appearance in the top flight dating back to 1973, are trying to cement a B&I Cup place that comes with a top four finish.
Heriot’s welcome back Cammy Ferguson, Jason Hill and CJ Osazuwa aware that three meetings with Currie this season have produced a draw, a three-point win and a two-point defeat.
Club internationalist Jamie Forbes is the latest to join an extensive Currie injury list, but they have been boosted by the return to the squad of Andrew Binikos, part of a history making Cypriot national team whose 18th consecutive victory, by 79-10 against Bulgaria last week, brought a world record 18th consecutive win.