EDINBURGH RUGBY winger Dougie Fife was unpacking his bags following a holiday in Spain when he was told that he had been called in as a replacement to the Scotland World Cup training squad. Now he is determined to grab the opportunity with both hands.
Having played in three Six Nations matches during February and March, including the final encounter against Ireland, many felt the former Currie man was unlucky to miss out on the initial 46-man squad named at the start of June.
Head coach Vern Cotter picked six wingers at that stage – Tommy Seymour, Sean Maitland, Tim Visser, Sean Lamont and the uncapped duo Damien Hoyland and Rory Hughes.
All six are still involved now, but an injury to centre Duncan Taylor allowed 24-year-old Fife to join up with the group later in the month.
It was on the same day as his Edinburgh colleague Ben Toolis was called in to replace Tim Swinson and Fife, pictured below, explained: “I was in Spain having a few days off with some of my Edinburgh team-mates, got back on the Friday, was phoned on Saturday and by the Monday I was in camp with the Scotland squad.
“I have been here for just over three weeks now and I am just trying to do everything I can to stake a claim for a World Cup place. When the initial squad was named, Vern told me I had just missed the cut, but to keep fit and work hard with Edinburgh because it was a long way to go until the tournament with four warm-up games to come and anything could happen. He really said ‘keep fit and keep interested’. When I got that call I didn’t expect anything because at this level you can’t expect to make any squad.
“I was obviously gutted when I got the call, though, as the World Cup is a massive thing. Now I have a second chance I have to take it with both hands.”
Fife, who has six caps to his name, was told that he had to work on adapting his game from the way that Edinburgh play to the way that Scotland do.
He said: “Scotland play a very different way. Previously it was hard to come into the squad and play the way they wanted.
“Now with a period of time together I feel more comfortable as we get used to that structure and the way the Scotland coaching team want us to play.
“The mood in the camp has been good. To begin with it was a lot of weights and conditioning and now rugby is coming to the fore.
“I am sure we will look closer at things when the Ireland game [the first warm-up match on August 15] approaches, but we are all positive – everybody pushes each other so it is a good environment to be in.”
As well as the Ireland match in Dublin, Scotland take on Italy home and away and France in Paris before they head to the showpiece event in England and Wales in September and October.
Fife knows if he has any chance of making the final 31-man party that will head to Gloucester to take on Japan in the Pool B opener on September 23 then he has to hit the ground running in those warm-up matches.
He stated: “The first three games will play a big factor before they choose the squad with the France game coming days after it is named.
“I feel in a good place to go to the World Cup and help the team if selected.”