MONROE JOB has learnt a lot in the two months since he made his senior competitive debut for Selkirk against Border rivals Hawick, and the 18-year-old back-rower is looking forward to putting some of those lessons to use in his side’s Premiership rematch with the Greens this coming weekend.
Job is one of a number of Selkirk Youth under-18s players from 2021-22 who have made the step up to playing for the 1st XV at Philiphaugh this season, alongside Lachlan Ferguson, Finlay Wheelans and Cammy Easson.
And he is one of a number of the Scotland under-18 squad that went to France in April for the Six Nations Festival who have seen action in the top flight since it began for 2022-23 in late August. Others have included his now Selkirk team mate Callum Smyth, Elliot Young and Sam Wallace (Heriot’s Blues, who have since stepped up to Heriot’s Super6), Amena Caqusau and Johnny Ventisei (GHA), Hector Patterson (Hawick), Euan Muirhead (Glasgow Hawks) and Finlay Thomson (Musselburgh, who also played Premiership last year).
“That trip to France with Scotland under-18s really helped my development,” Job, who has started at No 8 for Selkirk regularly in the league so far this term and impressed many, said.
“Having seen the chance to go and play for one of the Scotland under-16s squads at the festival in Wales taken away from us in 2020 because the pandemic came a few weeks before we were due to leave, I think all of the guys in my age group just could not wait to get out to France and represent our country two years later.
“Before that trip, after the worst of the pandemic had come and gone, we tried to hit the ground running in 2021-22 at Selkirk Youth and those of us who were in our final year at the age-grade wanted to make the most of it.
“We had some good results and we all enjoyed the season playing with our mates as a group one last time. As we were all at Selkirk High School we had a really close bond and had known each other since we were kids and I think it showed when we took to the pitch.
“Off the back of playing for Selkirk Youth, I was lucky enough to be selected to play for Edinburgh as we beat Glasgow to win the under-18 junior 1872 Cup at The Greenyards. That was in March and a few weeks later the Scotland under-18 squad were off to France [Marcoussis].
“Singing the anthem, being on tour with the guys, the quick turnaround between matches, the quality of the opposition and a lot of other things were memorable about the trip and it gave me a good benchmark of the level I needed to be at going forwards.”
Job actually began his rugby days in the minis section at Melrose, but after a couple of years there switched to Selkirk and, apart from playing a bit of football when he was younger, he has never looked back.
Last season’s Premiership campaign was a bit up and down for Selkirk with injuries, unavailability and postponements all contributing to the team eventually finishing ninth, while the first couple of months of this campaign have seen head coach Scott Wight able to put out a much more settled starting XV week in and week out, and results have improved.
They drew 20-20 against Hawick at Mansfield on the opening day and since then they have won five and lost two of their next seven games to sit fourth in the 10-team league, nine points off the top.
That top spot is currently held by Hawick and Job said: “Having come from the French trip with the under-18s into pre-season with Selkirk seniors after a break, I knew I was in good shape, but I also knew that senior matches would be more physical than anything I was used to.
“And that proved to be the case away to Hawick a couple of months ago, but I thought we did well in that game and we took confidence from it going forward.
“In general, the team has been going well and we feel like on our day we can compete with any other side in the league.
“The support we get at our home matches is excellent and it is always fun playing in Border derbies, so we are looking forward to welcoming Hawick to Philiphaugh this weekend.
“Like us, they seem to have had a fairly settled squad and they have won all their games since we played them. We know it’ll be a test, but it is one that we are up for.”
Since leaving school in the summer, Job has been working for Best Intent Marquees, so he is juggling a few commitments and there could be even more on his plate soon – not that he will be complaining if there is.
Job is in the mix for the Scotland under-20 squad and he said: “After the under-18s experience, it would be great to play for the under-20s, but I know there is a lot of competition for places in the back-row, so I will just keep my head down and keep working hard.
“I am really enjoying my rugby with Selkirk and we have an important batch of games before Christmas, so right now that’s my main focus, starting with Hawick.”