Selection of Luke Crosbie instils belief for Edinburgh's hopefuls
Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill spoke earlier in the week about how some off-field issues with back-row players this season have simply served to present opportunities for others and few epitomise that more than Luke Crosbie.
Just turned 20, the young academy loose forward already has seven appearances to his name this season and is hoping for an eighth this Saturday when Edinburgh host London Irish in the European Challenge Cup.
Cockerill has spoken highly of the lad from Mid Calder, who started playing rugby at Livingston RFC before moving to Currie, and hasn’t hesitated in throwing him in at the deep end.
“It has been really quick,” said the flanker. “Obviously, looking back, I have got seven caps at a pro level. When I came back from the under-20s [World Cup] in the summer I thought it might take me a while to even train with the pros.
“Since getting my first game [against Zebre in October] I have just worked hard. Cockers says ‘if you work hard then you get to play’ so from a young academy boy perspective that is what you want. It doesn’t matter how many caps you have or your name, if you work hard then you will get a chance. If you had asked me in the summer if by now I would have one appearance then I would have said ‘no chance’.”
It is a naturally daunting prospect when a teenager enters the a training environment with a senior squad packed with well-known international players but Crosbie has quickly found his feet.
“To be honest everyone has been helpful,” he said. “I was at bit worried thinking ‘where do I sit in the changing rooms?’ Trying not to annoy anyone.
“I remember in the pre-season camp in St Andrews sitting there with Ross Ford and talking through the game and no matter what the position he knows the game inside and out and that was quite a big thing for me and I just try to grasp all the knowledge I can.”
Crosbie offers welcome versatility but sees his future eventually focusing in on the blindside flanker position.
“I actually started off as a second-row,” he explained. “But realised I was quicker and could play back-row and have played mostly at six. I have played seven too, not much No 8, but feel I can play across the back-row.”
Back-row competition at Edinburgh is already fierce and, with John Barclay arriving next season, it will continue to be so but Crosbie views being surrounded by such high-quality team-mates a help and not a hindrance to his career prospects.
“I don’t focus on anyone else, although I have got internationals around me and I have learnt a lot from them,” he said. “Whether they are back or not I just try to have the mindset that I am young so I want to learn as much as I can from everyone in the team no matter their position.
“I just focus hard at training and building my skills and then working hard in the gym and if the chance comes on the pitch I have to take it. There is no point worrying thinking ‘he’s going to come back in, I’m not going to play’, I don’t think that way. I have quite a selfish mindset. I just want to make myself better and whatever happens, happens.”