CURRIE may be battling to preserve their RBS Premiership status, but coach Ally Donaldson is desperate for his team to show their true quality by securing silverware this season.
The Capital club face city rivals Heriot’s a week on Saturday in the RBS Edinburgh Regional Cup final at Malleny Park and Donaldson hinted that his players will be driven by a sense of injustice.
His side are second bottom of the league after a dreadful start to the season. However, they have picked up in recent months and part of their fight to stave off relegation was a 17-17 draw against Heriot’s at Goldenacre just before Christmas, which took them above Aberdeen Grammar in the table.
Aware of how seven Heriot’s players have been included in the Scottish clubs’ international squad for matches later this season, while Currie have none, Donaldson said: “When you look at the performance of our players such as John Cox, David Cherry, Ross Weston, Mark Cairns and Richard Snedden, we can’t believe they are not in the clubs squad.”
One player he feels should definitely be looking to make the step up is hooker Cherry, who has benefitted from the influence of Edinburgh pro Stuart McInally’s involvement at the club. Touting the former Edinburgh Accies player for a step up, Donaldson said: “David Cherry is a really good rugby player and a guy who pro teams should be having a look at. He can do the technical job of a hooker really well helped by some good all-round skills. David has been integral to our climb away from the basement although we still have plenty of work to do.
“Players like him and the others who must have been pushing the clubs’ international squad could have become fed up or disappointed with the way things were going at a time when we are introducing a raft of player such as George Horne, Karl Main and Harvey Elms – all three of whom have still got another year at under-20 level straight from the school game.
“Instead our senior players have shown real character [to bounce back] and anybody who knows them will hardly be surprised. They have been rocks on which our side has been built for years, but even more so in this campaign.”
One major difference for the cup clash at Malleny Park is that professionals will be barred from taking part, which should create a more level playing field compared to the recent league meeting between the clubs that resulted in Heriot’s fielding three pros to Currie’s one.
“For the cup final we could also have Ethan Pollock, Joe Reynolds, Jack Broadley and Calum Kerr back from injury,” said Donaldson. “It will certainly be an interesting final. We only lost to Heriot’s late on in the league game at our ground and what we have learned again is that Heriot’s are a really, really good team, with or without pros.”
For Heriot’s, their coach Phil Smith has targeted the cup as his side’s most realistic chance of winning silverware this season, admitting that the RBS Premiership title is probably out of their reach. The Goldenacre outfit sit five points behind leaders Gala in third place – albeit with a game in hand – but Smith believes Heriot’s’ 17-17 home draw with Currie just before Christmas dashed their hopes of being top of the tree come the end of the season.
Speaking in the wake of that draw at Goldenacre last month, Smith admitted: “That is probably the league gone. The one chance we had was to get (try) bonuses every week.”
In that last league clash with Currie, Heriot’s fielded two up-and-coming Edinburgh scrum halves – Sean Kennedy and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne – which meant a balancing act, according to Smith.
“We had agreed to give Sean and Sam a half each at scrum half and to give them a full 80 minutes, we gave them a half at full back as well,” he said.
“It was all agreed with Edinburgh Rugby and whether that worked to our advantage is debatable. We are just trying to help the pro game.”