HE is still only 20-years-old, but Jamie Dobie has been a full-time pro since joining Glasgow Warriors straight out of school on a full-time contract in the summer of 2019, so he feels like he has served his apprenticeship and is now ready to take his career to the next level.
It has been a frustrating month for the scrum-half, who has been out of action since playing 11 minutes off the bench against the Dragons on 4th December (missing out on selection to Ali Price and George Horne for Glasgow’s two European matches before Covid derailed the 1872 Cup double-header), so Dobie is desperate for some game-time against the Ospreys on Saturday night.
It is a big match in its own right, between two teams in the frame for a play-off spot in the United Rugby Championship, and with more European matches coming over the subsequent fortnight, and the Six Nations kicking-off on 5th February, he knows this weekend is a big opportunity to stake his claim for a more central role for both club and country in a crucial stretch of the season.
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“It’s not easy, of course, but getting that first cap was obviously a high point for me, and I’m absolutely keen to add to that,” says Dobie, who has now played 25 games for Warriors and made his Scotland debut against Tonga at the start of the recent Autumn Test series, but missed out to Price and Horne for the three subsequent matches against Australia, South Africa and Japan.
“We’ve got strong competition for the scrum-half slot here at Glasgow, including three of us involved in the most recent Scotland camp, so it is good to have that continuity, but it shows that the competition is fierce.
“It’s coming up to a year now since I had my first taste in that [international] environment during the last Six Nations, when I was fortunate to be involved as a travelling reserve for some of the big away games,” he continues.
“I learned a lot from that in terms of just being thrown in at the deep end – spending a lot of time in camp with limited opportunities to go outside the bubble – so to get that exposure at that stage was awesome, even though I wasn’t playing.
“Then the summer wasn’t quite what we all wanted [with Scotland’s three matches cancelled due to Covid], but to get that opportunity again in the Autumn, which led to a first cap, was brilliant.
“I’m hoping to be involved again in this Six Nations, and pushing for selection, because you want to be playing in these big games.
“And if I’m not, it is still an opportunity to learn from the other scrum-halves and the general environment, so either way it will be good to spend a couple of months there, if I can.”
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Learning to control tempo is a big challenge for all scrum-halves during the transition from youth to senior rugby, and Dobie acknowledges that he could hardly have had a better role model as he worked his way through that process than Price, who has transformed himself from impetuous live-wire to become one of the most respected game managers in the UK during the last year.
“It [controlling tempo] is definitely coming more naturally now,” says Dobie. “Coming from school, it’s not so much of a focus area, but stepping up into the adult and pro game it’s very important. It can be the difference in the big games, especially in my position.
“It’s about putting that into training as much as I can, and not just in games. I’m trying to focus on that and work on it every single day, so then it’s natural when it comes to the game, rather than having to force it.
“So, it’s definitely improved, but it’s still a work in progress. It’s getting there.”
“There’s no denying that Ali has gone from strength to strength recently,” he adds. “From the Lions tour and starting two of the three Tests, his confidence is sky high,” says the younger man. “You can see it on the field: he’s leading a lot more and he’s putting in the performances consistently now, which is great for the club and great for him.
“It’s great for all of the scrum-halves that we have the opportunity to learn from one of the best in the UK and across the world. Having that exposure day-in and day-out here at Glasgow and then with Scotland as well, it’s great for me to be able to pick up more and more from him. Ali is always helping me which is good of him.
“I came straight from school where I was playing every week, to then picking up minutes off the bench here and there. It is completely different, because obviously you want the game at the weekend where you can really see where you’re at, really test yourself and really learn.
“But the stage I was at, coming straight from school – and I’m still trying to learn as much as I can now – I can’t rush that too much. The opportunities I’m getting at Glasgow and in the Scotland set-up, the exposure I’m getting to top players, I’m still learning heaps.
“When I do get my chances on the pitch, and hopefully they’re coming more and more, I’m able to put the learning from training into those games.”
First up: the Ospreys. “I’m hoping to get some time on the pitch, which has been limited recently for a number of reasons, so I need to take my opportunities when I get them,” he concludes. “This weekend is a big game after that lay-off, between two teams vying close the top of the league – if we win then we jump ahead of them into fourth place [and potentially move in front of Ulster into third] – so we’re both after the result.
“Personally, it is good to be back out there, it is good to be in the 23 again, and I’m wanting to make the most of that, especially in a big game we are all targeting.”
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