Premiership: Continuity is key for Ryan Cottrell in Selkirk’s play-off bid

Philiphaugh men are still in control of their own destiny but have Marr breathing down their necks

Ryan Cottrell has been an important player for Selkirk this season. Image: Grant Kinghorn
Ryan Cottrell has been an important player for Selkirk this season. Image: Grant Kinghorn

SELKIRK have had a much-improved season in the Premiership this time around and are in control of their own destroy in the battle for a play-off spot, with the in-form Ryan Cottrell and others keen to make it happen in the coming weeks.

Their recent home defeat to Marr and then their inactivity last weekend due to frost has allowed their Troon rivals to go ahead of them – 46 points versus 44 – into fourth spot in the table. However, Selkirk  have a game in hand and it would mean a lot to the Philiphaugh side to make the semi-finals after a 2021-22 campaign blighted by injuries.

One of those injuries – in fact, two – belonged to utility back Cottrell who has bounced back to play in all 15 of their completed league games so far this term.


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“After last year’s difficulties for both myself and the team, this season has been brilliant to be a part of,” said the 22-year-old utility backs who has most recently played centre. “Pre-season went well, more guys were available than before from week one and we got some momentum from a good start [a draw at Hawick followed up by wins over Glasgow Hawks and Musselburgh] and we have taken things from there.

“Selection has been quite settled while experienced players like James Head and Craig Jackson have come into the fold and they have helped the younger guys out a lot.

“Working with [head coach] Scott Wight has also been excellent for me as a young back and I think, in general, the backline has really improved because of working with him and because we are a bit more experienced now.

“We managed to get a win in our first game after the festive period away to GHA [to lift the inaugural Breathing Space Cup] and while we were disappointed to lose to Marr the week after, the heads have certainly not gone down and there is a really positive buzz about the club in general just now.

“The trip to Edinburgh Accies this coming weekend is a big one for us. We know it’ll be a tough game because they are a good side, but we also know that on our day we can compete with anyone in the division.

“After that we have Heriot’s Blues at home [February 18th] and then Currie Chieftains away [February 25th], so we have to be focused for every game because anyone can beat anyone in this league.”

 

Rewind back to September 2022 and local lad Cottrell was suffering his first injury of 2021-22. It was the second game of the top flight campaign away to Hawick and he dislocated the AC joint in his shoulder.

“That was a blow and, just with the nature of the injury, it made everyday things quite tricky as well, so it was frustrating,” he recounted. “I did my rehab and came back four months later in January. In my third game back I tore the MCL in my knee, so things just weren’t going for me.

“In the whole season I was only involved in five XVs games, so to have played 15 already in the league this year feels good

“From my knee injury the aim was always to try and get back for the Melrose Sevens in April and I managed to do that, played some more sevens events and then worked to get fully fit and sharp ahead of this season.

“I’ll certainly never take playing week-in, week-out for granted again having missed seven months with those two injuries.”

Like most young players, Cottrell also had the early stages of his senior career blighted by the pandemic, but how did he come to rugby in the first instance?

“Like most youngsters in the Borders, I started playing at quite a young age in the Minis at Selkirk,” Cottrell, who works in marketing for Live Borders, explained. “I played through the Minis and then into the junior section until I was in about S2 [at Selkirk High School].

“Football then took over and during the next few years I played for a few clubs in and around Edinburgh, so it was a lot of travelling.

“I was missing playing rugby with my mates and missing playing locally, so when Selkirk Youth were short of a back for an under-16 game at one point I played and then I slowly went back to the sport ‘full time’ after that.

“For two years I was involved with the Selkirk Youth under-18s and by 2018-19 I was playing senior rugby at the club

Michael Jaffray [now Selkirk’s defence coach] and Graham Marshall were the coaches then and they created a good environment for young players to learn in.

“I got a few first team games under my belt that year and since Scott Wight has come in from 2019-20 onwards I have just tried to do my bit for the club.

“The last few months have been really enjoyable and with big league games coming up and then the Scottish Cup there are exciting times ahead.”


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About Gary Heatly 463 Articles
Gary has loved rugby ever since he can remember and since 2004 he has covered the sport and others in a professional capacity for many publications and websites and runs his own company, GH Media.