Matt SCOTT flew out on his first Scotland rugby tour today aiming to repay the host Australians for acts of kindness in the only way a professional athlete knows how – by inflicting defeat.
After a 9-8 Murrayfield victory in 2009, the Scots have an opportunity to achieve back-to-back victories over the Wallabies for the first time since 1982, when they meet in Newcastle, New South Wales on June 5.
But that Capital encounter evokes warm memories for the once-capped Scott for other reasons. As a member of the National Rugby Academy he, and current Edinburgh colleague Gregor Hunter, seized upon an invitation to spend a few days with the Australians soaking up information at a crucial stage of their development.
It was a form of work experience and Scott, who has just been granted Honorary Membership of the Currie club in recognition of being the first player to come through from mini ranks to full international status, recalls: “Gregor and myself got to camp with the Aussies and not only watched them train but joined in with a session. There was also a chance to talk about rugby generally with their coach, Robbie Deans.
“Robbie has no reason to remember us but I can’t overstate how helpful he was. It was a fantastic gesture reflecting the rugby spirit that the Aussies were willing to open up to a couple of keen Scottish youngsters. Not only that but we were asked by the Australians to take notes about aspects of the international match. I was surprised at how laid back the Australian team were. At that time I wasn’t even a professional rugby player, just an 18-year-old, keen to improve my game.
“There I was sitting on the Wallaby team bus just a few seats away from some of the stars of the world scene.
“What I learned most was that when all was said and done these household rugby names such as Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale were normal guys. They were talented rugby players but I remember thinking they were not a million miles from where I was.
“It was a great to get behind ‘enemy lines’ but, while I respect Robbie Deans tremendously there is nothing else for it but to try to spoil his summer if I’m called upon to play.”
What that experience also taught Scott was how fired up the Australians will be to extract revenge. “Scotland got a fantastic result last time out but there is no doubt it will be at the back of the Wallabies’ minds,” he said while describing his recognition at Currie as a “huge honour”.
“I gave the club my first Test jersey (from a debut off the bench against Ireland in March) and it was a pleasure to do so. After all, if it hadn’t been for the Currie club in the first place I’d never have become an internationalist.
“I was not expecting Honorary Membership at all. I had heard the club were going to be commemorating my cap but there are guys who have been at Currie all their lives and not had anything like this – (coach) Ally Donaldson for example.
“There was me, only a pro rugby player for nine months massively honoured and taken aback.”
Scott is desperate to double his cap tally on what will be his first experience of touring since travelling abroad with the Currie under-16s and under-18s to, respectively, Barcelona and Dublin. “Those previous tours I undertook with Currie were social jaunts. This is at the other end of the scale, a different kettle of fish entirely. But it is still what game is all about, team work, working together, the spirit of rugby – it will be all of that.
“Regardless of whether I double my cap total – and I feel I have a point to prove having not played particularly well in Ireland when the team suffered a heavy defeat – it won’t be a tour to be undertaken and forgotten about.
“With so many Edinburgh guys in the squad this is a chance to learn things which we can use to push on from the good year we have had at the club.
“No matter who the Australians put out they will be full of class but if we get our game going consistently for 80 minutes we can not only beat them but Fiji and Samoa as well.”