Edinburgh's Jamie Hodgson speaks on Scotland journey, key Gregor Townsend talk and second-row battle

Edinburgh lock Jamie Hodgson floated back into training this week, still basking in the glow of his international breakthrough.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 10:00 pm
Jamie Hodgson celebrates Scotland's 15-13 win over Australia in the Autumn Nations Series at BT Murrayfield. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

The second-row forward won his first Scotland cap as a starter in the thumping win over Tonga, and the second and third quickly followed when he came on as a sub against Australia and South Africa.

They were pinch-yourself moments for the 23-year-old, who has been going about his work at Edinburgh with a quiet diligence over the past couple of seasons.

“The first cap was amazing and just the whole journey with my family and everyone involved. It was a boyhood dream,” he said. “And to get on the next week as we beat Australia – I don’t think I could have dreamt that, it was incredible.”

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Jamie Hodgson back in training with Edinburgh after the international window. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

While eight players were given debuts in the 60-14 win over Tonga, only Hodgson and Pierre Schoeman of the octet remained in the squad for the match against the Wallabies – testament to the trust national coach Gregor Townsend had placed in the pair.

“To get involved in that second game was definitely a big confidence boost,” acknowledged Hodgson.

Thrilled as he was to win his first caps, the Livingston-born player knows he’ll have to double down and work even harder to keep his place in the squad. Second row is a highly competitive position, with Grant Gilchrist, Scott Cummings, Sam Skinner and Rob Harley all starting there for Scotland during the autumn. When Jonny Gray and Ben Toolis return from injury the battle for places will become even more fierce but Hodgson is ready to embrace the challenge.

“I think Scotland’s always had and always will have a lot of strength in depth in second row,” he said. “But taking from that experience the learnings I’ve got and the feedback I have from the coaches, it’s in my head that I want to come here, kick on and see what happens. I’d love to pull on the thistle if I got another shot.”

Jamie Hodgson runs out ahead of his Scotland debut against Tonga. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

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He said Townsend was particularly helpful, making him feel at ease ahead of his debut.

“I actually didn’t speak a huge amount to Gregor through the week. I found out in the middle of the week that I was going to be starting. Then I spoke to him the day before the game and it relaxed me. Rather than being ‘you’ve got to do this, that and the next thing’ it was ‘how are you, how’s your family?’, and finding out about me. It was really nice to have that and go in with a bit of confidence.”

The experience was made all the more special for Hodgson because the games were the first to be played in front of fans since Covid which meant his family and friends could witness his debut and the award of his first cap from Jamie Ritchie is a special ceremony in front of the main stand.

The one man who deserves his praise more than anyone, though, is dad Mike, according to Hodgson.

“I suppose that’s a bit cheesy but he’s the person that’s taken me to places at ridiculous times in the morning, turned up every Saturday and come to every club game whether that was Stew-Mel or Watsonians or Edinburgh. I think he’s probably done a fair bit of mileage!”

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