Currie playmaker Jamie Forbes goes into tomorrow’s crucial Premier A clash with Melrose at Malleny Park requiring just four points to bring up 250 for the season but, more importantly, with advice from new Scotland stand-off Greig Laidlaw still ringing in his ears.
At 5ft 9in tall and weighing 75kg, Forbes is the roughly the same height and weight as Laidlaw, who is proving a role model for relative rugby lightweights as he helps make the current Scottish back-line tick from stand-off.
Forbes, who switches from full-back to stand-off tomorrow as a result of Andy Binkikos’ injury, said: “When I was training with Watsonian 2nds last season before my move to Currie, Greig gave up some time to do some coaching with us.
“For me that was a huge help because as well as telling me to put height and weight to the back of my mind, he also stressed the advantage that can come from being more agile. One of the things Greig said was ‘they (opponents) might be bigger but you can beat them with speed’.”
Forbes, 20, capped by Scotland at under-19 level and a sufficiently talented footballer to have represented Watson’s College in a Scottish private schools cup final against St Aloysius at Tynecastle, has used the situation positively.
“Whenever I’ve been told by people that I’m too small to make an impact in rugby I’ve done my best to prove otherwise,” says the son of former Edinburgh District stand-off, Gordon Forbes.
Regardless of whether Forbes has been at full-back or stand off this season, tries have flowed from Currie once again – 85 in all matches so far – and while that is something which provides huge satisfaction, there is no doubt that successful goal-kicking can prove the difference between success and failure.
To that end, Forbes relished being told at the start of the season by Currie coach Ally Donaldson that he would be in the front line. “As well as enjoying the intensity of games at the top of the table and all the rivalry that brings, being told that I’d be first-choice goal-kicker provided added responsibility which I enjoy. Sometimes I’ll practice before and after Thursday night sessions and again on a Friday because there are no shortcuts.
“Goal-kicking had never been the most prolific aspect of my game but I’ve enjoyed giving it extra priority,” adds the Edinburgh University Sports Science student, who regards the visit of Melrose as a ‘must win’, not least because a defeat at Stirling County has dropped Currie to fourth and five points behind leaders Melrose who have a game in hand.
However, due to their superior scoring differential (+25), Currie, who have a left wing vacancy to fill, could go top with a four-try bonus point win depending on how third-place Gala fare at fifth-placed Stirling and second-placed Dundee at sixth-placed Ayr.
Melrose make one change to their squad with Scott Wight coming on to the bench for Chris Hardie.
Elsewhere, in Group A, Boroughmuir entertain Aberdeen Grammar FPs without Sep Visser who is starting for Edinburgh at Newport Gwent Dragons tomorrow.
That means a run at full-back for Keith Buchan, while Sam Johnson returns at scrum half. Harris Jones is on the wing after a long term injury as he replaces Robert Cairns, who suffered a broken jaw last week.
Aberdeen introduce Angus Willis to the back-row, with Tony McGuiness officially “rested” and, in a pack reshuffle, Rab Barrie moves to lock and Murray Douglas takes over at No. 8.
In Group B Edinburgh Accies must back-up a win over Heriot’s by seeing off Stewart’s Melville, again at Raeburn Place. But coach Simon Cross warns of a backlash. “Stew-Mel will come to Raeburn Place full of confidence and desperate to avenge last year’s 69-8 defeat,” he says.
A hamstring injury means the star of the win over Heriot’s, Jamie Sole, drops out to be replaced by Euan Bonner at full back.
In looking to maintain their record as the only club never to have been out of the top flight since leagues commenced in 1973 – two teams only will be promoted due to reconstruction – Heriot’s are at home to Hamilton ahead of a Cup tie with Haddington at Meggetland on Tuesday while Watsonians head for Jed-Forest.
For Sonians, Andrew Chalmers could debut in the backs as they bid to recover from a last-minute loss at Stew-Mel.