One of the fastest rising talents in Scottish rugby will be parading his skills against Heriot’s tomorrow when Currie go on a revenge mission to Goldenacre.
A fortnight ago, Currie were knocked out of the BT Scottish Cup amidst controversy when a player was deemed to be offside in scoring a late try when, in fact, he had been played on by a Heriot’s charge down as subsequent replays showed.
But the incident should not be allowed to overshadow the contribution that day of 17- year-old Robbie Nairn on the Currie wing. Making only his second senior appearance, Nairn, a Watson’s College student, powered through on an angle to score a try in the first half, and it was the perfect follow-up to a debut against Boroughmuir a few weeks earlier when coach Ben Cairns nominated him as the stand-out performer.
Nobody has followed Nairn’s progress more closely than Ally Donaldson who, as well as being Currie coach up until this season, is director of rugby at Watson’s, to where Nairn moved from Currie High School last year.
Donaldson said of the 6ft 1in and 15st 13lb (101kg) player who took up rugby at the age of 14 and quickly became part of age-group sides that won national club honours: “When I chatted with Ben Cairns and agreed Robbie was ready for the adult game I felt excited rather than worried.
“There is huge potential but, of course, Robbie has a long, long way to go.
“Fortunately Robbie is a level-headed lad who realises this.
“There are real areas of his game he needs to work on, but he has a very good work ethic. He has real pace and I enjoy coaching him because he is always wondering what he can do better.
“In the two adult games he’s played he has answered questions about defence while his attacking play is really strong.”
Nairn has an impressive background in athletics which is maybe to be expected of someone whose mother was a Scotland international long jumper.
It is, however, as a shot putter that he has excelled, with Donaldson remarking: “This summer Robbie broke the Watson’s record – and it had stood since 1964!”
During the 2012-2013 season Nairn struck gold at the Scottish Secondary School under-16 Championships and at the Scottish Indoor Championships.
Further honours were accrued in his age-group at Scottish East District Championships, the Scottish Outdoor Championships, the UK Sainsbury School Games at Olympic Park, the Edinburgh under-17 Secondary School Championships, and Scottish National Championships at under-17 and under-18.
He also placed fifth at the under-17 AVIVA SIAB International Match in Kent and third at the under-18 Celtic Games international in Aberdeen.
Donaldson added: “When I was at Currie and heard there was a champion shot putter playing on the wing I had to take notice and I certainly haven’t been disappointed!”
Meanwhile, at prop Alistair Hamilton returns from injury for Currie in place of the unavailable Mike Erskine. Cypriot internationalist Fidias Efthymiou is called up in place of Duncan Swanson who has returned to university.
At stake will be the Bill McLaren Shield, held by Heriot’s who are able to include Edinburgh forward Jamie Ritchie.
Ritchie, who damaged a shoulder in the cup tie at Currie, has recovered and takes over from the unavailable Ken McKenzie. On the bench, Danny Levinson and Russell Weir stand by for debuts.
Heriot’s coach Phil Smith said: “We have worked hard this week on dealing with teams who are direct and physical against us.
“We were pleased with the outcome against Boroughmuir last week (36-3) having really struggled against Currie the week before in the cup.
“If our players can bring a similar intensity and accuracy I am hoping to see a bit more possession than we had at Malleny Park in the cup.”