Statistics forever to be associated with Jim Hamilton concerns the fact he is the 1000th player capped by Scotland’s rugby team.
That was back in 2006. In the context of today’s RBS Six Nations clash at BT Murrayfield, though, a more telling statistic is the fact that the last time Ireland called, it was this 6ft 8in second row who was official man-of-the-match.
Scotland posted a 12-8 victory and at its core was a dominant line-out called by Hamilton, who was part of four “steals” on the opposition throw.
Irish icon Paul O’Connell was missing due to illness and he has been a cornerstone of their touchline effort for so long.
But fast forward a few months and there was O’Connell at the heart of a Munster line-out taken apart by Edinburgh in a 29-23 European Cup triumph.
So, there are reasons to believe that Scotland can take the touchline route to upsetting Ireland’s title aspirations and, more importantly, letting some light into their own tournament of unrelenting gloom, at least so far as results go.
Hamilton is a glass half-full sort and part of the reason is having contributed to that previous win in Edinburgh over Ireland that was as big a scalp as Scotland have claimed recently. It cost then Ireland coach Declan Kidney his job.
“Yes, I played in that game and it was a good day for Scotland,” recalled Hamilton. “It was a strange game, I think they had 75 per cent possession and I think we stole four out of their 14 line outs, which was obviously a huge base for them.
“Ireland are a team that suit the way we play. They are route-one directed, They have a good line out, we have a good line out too, so it is well matched in those terms — like I said, if we get everything right....”
In other words, if Ireland can be upset in a key area, then other advances can be made by Scotland.
This will be the 60-times capped Hamilton’s first start at Murrayfield in over a year and some distinguished ex-caps are particularly surprised it is not more, notably Colin Deans, erstwhile World Cup captain, who said recently: “Like Martin Johnson (ex-England) and Paul O’Connell (Ireland) there is a steeliness about him. If Jim had come on earlier against Wales then he just might have been able to pull things together.
“Okay, the stupid penalties given away at times by Jim are frustrating. But at least he is always in the thick of things. He’s worth his salt.”
So, Scotland are all the better for the big man’s return and having soldiered through lean times for a 29 per cent win rate in Scottish colours, he doesn’t intend to miss out on the new dawn he feels is coming.