Premiership: prolific Craig Robertson says Heriot’s Blues are ready for relegation battle

Winger has scored 14 tries in 13 matches played so far this season

Craig Robertson [left], who has scored 14 tries in 13 games for Heriot's in the Premiership so far this season, with head coach Phil Smith [left]. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Craig Robertson [left], who has scored 14 tries in 13 games for Heriot's in the Premiership so far this season, with head coach Phil Smith [left]. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

WHEN the Premiership season resumes this coming weekend, second bottom of the table Heriot’s Blues will have the top try scorer in the league to date in their ranks in the shape of the experienced Craig Robertson.

The Goldenacre men have won three and lost 10 games so far since their promotion into the top flight last summer and while, at times, they have struggled up-front against bigger and more streetwise packs, 31-year-old Robertson has given them a consistent outlet out wide.

The winger has scored a remarkable 14 tries in 13 games to lead the league’s try scoring stakes ahead of Currie Chieftains’ Kody McGovern on 11 – and it helps, of course, that this is far from his first rodeo when it comes to the Premiership.


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During his teens and early 20s, he played regularly at this level for his hometown club Gala, also helping them to win the Scottish Cup in 2011-12 when he scored a try in the final versus Ayr at Murrayfield.

Just over a decade ago, he also took up rugby league and has since gone on to play for Scotland in that code and is currently player/coach of the Edinburgh Eagles.

In terms of union, the Scotland Club XV cap had a short interlude away from Gala playing for arch-rivals Hawick, before moving from Netherdale to play at Heriot’s in 2017-18, going on to be part of the squad which went so close to winning the league and Cup in 2018-19 only to be thwarted by Ayr on both occasions.

On Saturday, Heriot’s return to action with a crucial home match against Jed-Forest, who are one position and four league points ahead of them in the table. Musselburgh are currently four points behind in the sole relegation spot, so there really isn’t much breathing space.

“We know that we have five big games coming up before the regular season ends and we have to be ready for them all,” said Robertson. “At times this season we have certainly shown teams in the Premiership what we are all about and we have caused problems, but at other times we have leaked soft scores and let the opposition get on top and at this level you can’t get away with that.

“Last season [when Heriot’s won the National League Division One title] we could get away with having a smaller pack because we had so much possession in games, but in the Premiership it is all about having a big pack and a solid anchor on which to build from.

“Our pack has been improving all season and myself and the other backs have tried to do our bit when we have had the ball, but now it is just about bringing all of the good bits together during one game.

“There have been lots of positives so far this season and we are taking all of those positives into the New Year.

“It is great having Heriot’s back in the Premiership and going forward we just have to be a bit harder in games and be a bit more accurate with everything that we do because we know that we have the players within our squad to cause teams problems.

“We also have to earn the right to go wide when we are attacking and the experienced players need to continue to help the younger ones to come through because it is a big learning curve for them at this level.

“Every team in the league has had quite an extended break since early December because of the poor weather, so everyone will be raring to go and we just have to come out on Saturday and play our own game in a controlled manner.”

 

With the likes of former Rugby League greats Shaun Edwards and Kevin Sinfield now making their mark as defence coaches in union, much has been made about the 13-man code’s influence on that side of the game.

But how can playing league – or taking notes from that form of the game – help in an attacking sense when it comes to union?

“There is no doubt that rugby league has helped me in terms of my finishing when it comes to union,” Robertson, who works as a quantity surveyor away from the pitch, explained. “Playing league gives you that extra confidence when it comes to taking the ball on the front foot and finding spaces in defences and it also encourages you to come off the wing and go looking for the ball across the pitch.

“Being involved in league also gives you confidence when it comes to physicality and trying to dominate one-on-one against a defender when you are attacking because you always want to make yards when you are on the ball.

“I’ve taken those things into my union games and I think the way I’m playing just now is showing that.

“And if any union players out there are keen to give league a try then please feel free to get involved with the Edinburgh Eagles this summer.

“For now, union-wise, I just want to score a few more tries to help us make sure we will be in the Premiership for next season.

“I am confident that we will be and I have faith in the guys around me, but in the coming weeks we have to really show people what we are all about on the pitch because this is a competitive league.”

Heriot’s Blues last competitive outing was on December 3rd when they took two losing bonus points away from a 37-32 loss to title chasing Currie at Malleny Park.

When they played Jed last time around in October, they were humbled 51-20 at Riverside Park, the Borderers scoring 38 points in the second half.


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About Gary Heatly 315 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.

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