Using pro players ‘a quick fix’, says George Graham

George Graham during his Scotland coaching days.  Picture: Colin Hattersley
George Graham during his Scotland coaching days. Picture: Colin Hattersley
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Former Scotland rugby team forwards coach George Graham is calling for a change of protocol governing the release of professional players to the Premiership.

Graham’s current club, Gala, stand alone in turning down pro input and ex-Test prop Graham says it is through a combination of loyalty to regulars and the inability of the pros to make themselves more available to integrate.

“We played Aberdeen and they had a pro who turned up on the Saturday afternoon and promptly asked which team he was playing for,” he said.

“That meant obviously he had not been to training, didn’t know players’ names, the codes or any of the moves. How can he be a benefit for that club?”

On the loyalty aspect, Graham said: “I’m not saying I would never use pros but as much as I have a load of injuries, I still have players available that I am comfortable putting in Gala’s first team

“Until that changes, I more than likely won’t use pro players.

“It’s personal opinion but every other club seems to be jumping to have them.

“It’s a quick fix. They are cheating their own players. As soon as you find out you have pro players you drop the corresponding player just to accommodate these players who don’t bring much to the game, turn up on a Thursday and have very little input. Sometimes that can be more of a hindrance than a help.

“Pro players need to be getting game time but it is the amateur clubs being used as a vehicle just to give them game time.”

Graham also alleged connivance between the SRU and the professional regional teams.

Referring to a previous protocol that meant one club couldn’t have two pros more than an opponent, Graham said: “Because I wanted to stick by my players and the pro team wanted to get game time for their players, they miraculously changed the laws when it suited.

“They (clubs) can get offered four or five and take them. It just seems the pro teams can coerce the amateurs. It’s a quick fix.”