THERE is no compliment for a Scottish scrum-half greater than to be compared to Gary Armstrong. So Jamie Dobie, the 18-year-old Glasgow No 9, has every reason to feel pleased with what he has achieved in just a short period of time in the pro game after Kenny Murray, the club’s defence coach, made exactly that link.
“You think back to guys like Gary Armstrong, who was an extra back-row for Scotland, I reckon Jamie can have the same physicality in his game,” was Murray’s reaction to the young player’s latest showing.
“He’s also very quick and has a good pass. He’s got a lot of parts, he can be the real deal. The only thing he doesn’t have is experience, which is what he’ll get going through these games.”
Murray was reflecting on the youngster’s impressive 25-minute cameo against Zebre last weekend, which included a memorable 70-metre break from deep in his own half to within a few feet of the opposition line that eventually led to the final Glasgow try.
“He’s got a bit of everything. What I really like about him is that he’s a very good tackler. George [Horne] and Ali [Price] are good defenders and Jamie, at such a young age, is a good defender and he has that attacking ability.
“He’s shown in the games he’s played, he’s been excellent. He’s a young scrum-half but he’s put his hat in the ring. He’s got an older adversary in Nick Frisby vying for that position but he’ll be involved at some point [this week against the Dragons].
“He’s a real talent, you saw last weekend from his break, he’s got a real eye for a gap and he showed his physicality with his fend.”
Dobie is the first full-time recruit to Glasgow ranks born this century, and he also fits into that rare bracket of players who have skipped the academies and gone straight from school into pro ranks.
“The fact we signed him straight out of school shows how much we feel he is the real deal,” Murray pointed out. “There are not many players Glasgow or Edinburgh who sign straight out of school so the fact we did that highlights how highly we rate him.
“There’s a lot of competition, he’s up against two international scrum-halves, so that will be good for him. It will push his standards up. He’s not played an awful lot so a lot of his development has been on the training pitch. He’s a great guy, he’s determined to improve.
“He’s been patient. He knows there’s a pecking order he has to push up but the Six Nations is a window where young guys can get opportunities. Look at the likes of [Scott] Cummings and [Matt] Fagerson. They had to bide their time but took their chances.”Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 27)
We’ll find out on Friday if 18 is still considered too young for him to start – so far his six Glasgow appearances have all been off the bench – but he has been held back from Under-20s duty specifically to play for Glasgow and the more game time he gets, the quicker he will became a genuine contender for Glasgow and beyond.
He is certain to be involved against the Dragons at some stage in a game that Glasgow have to win, not just to get revenge for their October defeat down in Wales, but also to keep their attack on a PRO14 play-off place alive.
“Everybody had written us off to get to the play-offs,” said Murray. “That’s a good motivator, people saying we are not going to get there. The results went for us last weekend too so if we can push through this weekend and get a win when the Cheetahs play Ulster, we could put ourselves up there.”
The key is to keep the sustained attacking style that brought eight tries against Zebre and though the Welsh outfit will be a lot closer to full strength, if the likes of Dobie can spark them into live again, Glasgow have ever reason to feel confident.