Stand-off Chris Laidlaw has insisted his Boroughmuir team have a double incentive when concluding their BT Premiership campaign against Hawick at Meggetland tomorrow.
“Firstly, we need to get a win that could go a long way to sparing us the stress of going into the play-off against the runner up in the National League,” said Laidlaw, who also pointed out that there are places still to be claimed in the Boroughmuir team that will head to BT Murrayfield next month for a Scottish Cup final against tomorrow’s opponents, Hawick.
“There is a lot of competition for places so anybody putting on a good performance at this stage will obviously not do their prospects of getting picked for the final any harm.”
Running out at Murrayfield would be particularly poignant for Laidlaw, a 24-year-old joiner.
Not only did his dad, Roy, play there for Scotland but cousin, Greig, has maintained the family tradition in the current Test team.
“I’ve been to Murrayfield plenty of times, including to watch Jed Thistle win the Scotland Under-18 cup last week, but never to play,” he said.
“So, if selected, it is going to be great to follow in my dad’s footsteps with Boroughmuir.”
Given his background, how easy is it going to be to retain focus on such a special day for the Laidlaw family – the 32nd anniversary of the last Scottish Calcutta Cup win over England at Twickenham, when his dad scored a winning try, and with Greig captaining the latest side to try to end the hoodoo.
“It won’t be difficult because of what is at stake for Boroughmuir,” said Laidlaw, “and it really is a cup final of sorts, with us needing to win to put pressure on another couple of teams immediately above us and escape that play-off.
“Besides, the Calcutta Cup kicks off after we have finished.”
One of the teams still in danger of being dragged into the play-off scenario, Stirling County, are in action at already-relegated Edinburgh Accies, while Glasgow Hawks go to Currie later in the season knowing that a Boroughmuir win would leave them vulnerable.
“I’m looking forward to sitting down and watching the Calcutta Cup on television when it will hit home again just how big an honour it is for Greig, who has always been a great role model for me, to be leading out Scotland,” said Laidlaw, who is in his first season at ’Muir.
“When I returned from a couple of years playing in New Zealand last summer I decided that, after living in a city like New Plymouth, the prospect of returning to my home town of Jedburgh would be a bit too quiet.
“My girlfriend lives in Edinburgh and Meggetland is a really convenient place to play.
“Apart from all that, Boroughmuir were patient when I had to spend the first ten weeks of the season recovering from knee surgery so it would be good to help us maintain a much-improved record with only one defeat post-Christmas.”
Laidlaw’s return to fitness coincided with a Boroughmuir trip to Hawick, where they lost 16-36.
“We got well turned over that day but, like Scotland, we are improving and I live in hope of a great club and country double,” he said.
It was a last-gasp conversion from the touchline by Laidlaw that gave Boroughmuir a vital win at Glasgow Hawks in their last league outing, and when they returned to the same Anniesland pitch seven days later for the Cup semi-final he found himself on the bench to accommodate Carl Bezuidenhout on release from Edinburgh.
“It’s a squad effort and I was just happy to play a part,” he said. Besides Laidlaw’s reinstatement, the only other changes in the Boroughmuir starting line-up are up front where prop Jonny Latta takes over from Edinburgh’s Simon Berghan and Trent Sutton has recovered from injury to slot in at second row for Will Kay.
Zimbabwe internationalist Andy Rose returns from injury on the bench.
Hawick are chasing a top-four play-off spot and are not pleased that representative fixtures have a bearing on the selection process at this stage.
A Hawick spokesman said: “In what should be the last day of the season for all teams it seems a bit ridiculous and unfair to certain teams that results of this weekend’s games won’t determine final outcomes.
“However, we know we need to control what we can in winning on Saturday to make sure we give ourselves the best possible chance to enter the top-four play-off.
“Michael Robertson is rewarded for his impact off the bench last week and hopefully will have the same intensity in his performance from the start. Gary Lowrie returns to the squad while Ross Graham returns to Scotland Under-20 duty.”
In the National League, promotion-chasing Stewart’s Melville travel to play Biggar.