NOTHING gets rugby players more excited than a derby match under floodlights, and Glasgow Accies duo Fin Neilson and Tommy Spinks are certainly looking forward to the Tennent’s National League Division Two clash with GHK on Friday evening.
Accies will make the very short trip to Old Anniesland as underdogs, they sit ninth in the table as the season approaches the halfway point while GHK are second and scored 50 points at Gaordonians last time out.
However, it is often said that form goes out the window in derbies and Accies have also shown on their day this term – such as in their wins over Hamilton Bulls and Falkirk earlier this month – that they are capable of producing a performances over 80 minutes when things click.
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And with Scotland caps Ryan Grant and Ruaridh Jackson helping coach the Accies’ forwards and backs respectively they will no doubt have been passing on tips to the players this week about how to approach big matches.
One young player who has been working closely with Glasgow Warriors man, and former Scotland star, Jackson this year has been teenage stand-off Fin Neilson.
The 18-year-old is only a few months into his fledgling senior rugby career, but he has already impressed head coach Andy Jackson and others at the club in the playmaker role.
“For myself, working with someone of Ruaridh’s experience has been brilliant because he has been there and done it,” Neilson explained. “He is really easy to talk to and he has helped me get used to having less time on the ball at this level than perhaps I was used to during my school days.
“You have to make decisions a lot quicker when you get the ball while it can feel strange having to tell older players around you what to do sometimes, but as a 10 you have to get used to it.
“I am enjoying playing in this team, everyone is really friendly and there is a great team spirit, and although the results haven’t all gone our way this season to date I am sure we can push up the table in the coming months.”
He might be one of the youngest members of the squad, but Neilson has one of the longest connections to the club.
“I started playing mini rugby at Glasgow Accies when I was about six and after a few years of that I played school rugby for Glasgow Academy and also played for Glasgow Hawks,” explains the Strathclyde University first year Aero-Mechanical engineering student.
“Andy Jackson also coached at Glasgow Academy so last year when I was in my final year at school I trained a bit with the Accies senior squad. That has made the transition from junior rugby to senior rugby easier for me because I already knew a few of the guys and had an idea of what to expect when I got to the club for pre-season training in the summer.
“I am also playing for Strathclyde University during the week and I enjoy having both squads to work with and socialise with. I guess for some young players coming into their first season out of school could be daunting, but I love the environment at Accies.”Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 27)
One player who will be key for Accies if they are to secure an away win on Friday and climb the league table in the lead up to Christmas will be Tommy Spinks.
The former Scotland Under-20s captain has had experience at Glasgow Warriors, London Scottish, the Ospreys, Jersey, Glasgow Hawks and Ayr over the last few seasons and is still only 25-years-old, so would appear to be the ideal candidate for Super6, but the back-row who learnt his trade in North Berwick and at Fettes College decided that it was time for a change of gear.
“I love rugby, but I also have other commitments and responsibilities in my life that I want to give more time to now, so coming to a club like Accies who train hard twice a week, play on a Saturday and have a great social set-up was the best fit for me at this time,” he explained.
“I am so happy I joined the club, it has been a great few months. The guys really put everything into the training sessions, and out there on the pitch at the weekends, and being able to play alongside them and then help Ryan out with some line-out work as an assistant coach has been really good.
“Throughout my career I have always had quite a bit of line-out responsibility in teams that I have been playing in so I am just trying to bring that knowledge to this group.
“I give out feedback to the guys, but I also take feedback on board and I am still learning too. Just because I have played at a higher level, it doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t put the effort in during every session and in every game.”
With the league reaching the halfway stage over the coming days, what has Spinks made of the standard in National Two?
“I have actually found it really good,” he replied. “Each week there are teams you are coming up against who are well drilled and have some big ball carriers, and we have seen from some of the score-lines that most of the teams in the division really like to attack and score tries when they get the chance.
“We know that Friday night against a strong GHK side will be tough, but we are all looking forward to the challenge and are focused on making a solid start to the game.”
- GHK v Glasgow Accies takes place in Tennent’s National League Division Two at Old Anniesland on Friday evening at 8pm
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Well done to Fin. Don’t hear of many young players who play Uni and club rugby. Congrats to you.