Former Scotland rugby cap Ben Cairns has hailed the new sporting facilities being built at Heriot-Watt University’s Riccarton campus and the Currie head coach believes young up-and-coming sports talent must make the most of them.
Work on the Oriam sports performance centre has been continuing this summer and it is due to open to the public in the coming months.
The facilities will include an indoor 3G pitch with 500 seats, a sports hall, one outdoor synthetic pitch and seven outdoor grass pitches.
Scottish Rugby and the Scottish Football Association will be taking their national squads there to train, with a number of other sports also set to benefit.
And Cairns, who is about to enter his third season at the helm of BT Premiership outfit Currie, has made sure that his players will also get access to the new facilities.
The Malleny Park men will use Oriam regularly during season 2016/17 and Cairns, who played in 117 matches for Edinburgh Rugby and earned eight Scotland caps, said: “I think it is great to see investment in sporting facilities in general.
“On the rugby side of things good indoor facilities have really moved on in recent years. I remember times when I was training with Edinburgh and we would be scratching around on the day trying to find somewhere to train, but hopefully facilities such as Oriam will help see the end of those days.
“I think having access to facilities like this and knowing well in advance where we are going to be training will help the Currie guys greatly.
“It will help me as a coach with my planning too and doing fitness testing here will be great because it means the conditions are the same every time.
“A lot of our guys are students at Heriot-Watt anyway and the club has a good link-up with the university, so to have Oriam on our doorstep will help the whole squad improve.
“Just generally for youngsters, whatever sports they play, facilities like this are brilliant.”
Meanwhile, Cairns believes his squad are hungry for success in 2016/17 with the disappointment of a last-gasp top-flight semi-final defeat in back in April still fresh in the memory.
The players have been back in pre-season training for the last couple of weeks ahead of the league campaign which begins away to Ayr on August 27.
In 2015/16 they finished second in the regular season table and with just seconds remaining at Malleny Park were 22-21 up on eventual champions Heriot’s in their last four clash.
That was until Gregor McNeish kicked a winning drop goal for the visitors which saw the Currie players sink to their knees as the final whistle blew.
Cairns, 30, stated: “I said to the boys that, in a weird way, losing as we did in the league semi-final last season is the best way to prepare for this campaign because how can you be any more hungry for success after that failure?
“At our first pre-season session recently I showed them the video of the loss to Heriot’s and they were still hurting. As a result we are all looking forward to getting going again in August and I think a lot of the young players in the squad will have grown up a bit and will be ready to take on more leadership.
“For example, we had a number of guys away with Scotland under-20 at the World Championship last month and I thought they acquitted themselves well. They will have a slower start to pre-season because they need some rest and recovery time, but when they are back I expect them to be more confident and mature and show what they are about.
“You definitely need experience in your team, but the guys who give you energy and excitement are the young guys and it is great to watch them progress.”
As well as his young players progressing, Cairns too is progressing in the coaching world.
“It has been a steep learning curve for me over the last couple of years, but a good one and one that will hopefully stand me in good stead going forward if I get the chance to take my coaching to the next level,” he said.