HERIOT’S head coach Andrew Kelly believes that he has assembled a strong enough squad to have a tilt at the Super6 title this year.
The former Edinburgh and Scotland ‘A’ hooker missed the lion’s share of the inaugural season of the new league because he was tying up loose-ends in Hong Kong, where he had been based for the previous seven years, and when he did arrive at Goldenacre he was happy to take a back-seat while interim head coach Phil Smith led Heriot’s to a second place in the table.
That earned them a home play-off semi-final tie against Ayrshire Bulls, but the game never happened because the season was called null and void as a response to the Covid lockdown.
Now Kelly wants his side to go one better when the long-awaited second season of the part-time professional league kicks off in just over a week’s time by finishing top of the heap, with Heriot’s facing Boroughmuir Bears at Meggetland in their opening match of the campaign on Friday 30th July (kick-off 7.30pm).
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“We are very excited about the squad this season as we feel we have the players in place that can challenge for the FOSROC Super6 title,” said Kelly.
“Our challenge as a coaching group is to test this group and push them as hard as we can. Our aim is to improve these players so that they can not only win matches but catch the eye of the Edinburgh and Glasgow coaches, to go on to earn professional contracts and one day pull on the Scottish jersey.
“After a hard 18 months for everyone, the shining light for all players in the club is the prospect of playing the sport they love. Rugby is back and we can’t wait to get stuck in.”
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Kelly’s squad is 75 percent made up from players returning from the inaugural Super6 season, with 90 percent of players having come through the ranks at a Scottish club or school.
Iain Wilson will once again captain the squad. The former Howe of Fife back-row joined the capital side in the 2015-2016 season and was part of the Heriot’s squad which won the BT Premiership and Scottish Cup double that year.
“I can’t wait for the new season to get started. I’m really excited by the squad that we have, there’s been a great buzz around training,” said the Wilson. “The new additions have fitted in well and have all brought that something extra.
“There’s been great excitement and enthusiasm over the past few weeks at the thought of getting back to competitive rugby. The coaching team have been excellent in creating an environment where we work hard and have a lot of fun doing it.
“The guys have put in a lot of hard graft through pre-season and we are all really looking forward to putting that hard work in to practice come the start of the FOSROC Super6 season.”
Second row Fraser Hastie makes the move east to join Heriot’s Rugby from Ayrshire Bulls, reconnecting with Fin Gillies, the Heriot’s assistant coach who previously worked with the player at Glasgow Hawks.
Meanwhile, Callum Young joins the Goldenacre outfit from Jed-Forest, having previous played for the Scotland Club XV side and for the Scotland 7s side.
Cammy Hutchinson will look to replicate his form in the centre from that inaugural Super6 season, which earned him training opportunities at Edinburgh, leading to a try scoring debut for the pro side last month. He is now on a partnership contract.
“The level of physical conditioning, training and matches these Super6 players will be consistently exposed to will push them closer to the professional game, and we expect to continue seeing the growing evidence of that and more of them making the grade as professional players,” said Heriot’s director of rugby Neil Meikle.
“In terms of identifying Super6 players, Heriot’s have always focussed on domestic talent and we continue to do so. We are hunting for players from across the Scottish leagues who we think are capable of playing Super6 rugby and we also have a number of players in the Heriot’s Blues who are capable of stepping up.
“It is up to Andrew and his coaching team to get our talent to the level required to compete for the Super6 title. It’s pretty simple – Heriot’s Rugby Super6 are here to win rugby games for Heriot’s Rugby Club and create pro-rugby players and coaches for Scottish Rugby. That’s how we will be judged.”
Heriot’s Rugby squad to compete in the 2021 FOSROC Super6 –
Forwards: Andrew Nimmo, Chris Keen, Struan Cessford, Josh Scott, Michael Liness, Cameron Fenton, Adam Sinclair, Ronan Seydak, Ruairidh Leishman, Fraser Hastie, Callum Marshall, Jack Mann
Iain Wilson©, Jack McClean, Jason Hill, Michael Jones*, Dan Gamble*, Jamie Campbell*.
Backs: Lloyd Wheeldon, Alex Ball, Bruce Houston, Stuart Edwards, Robert Kay, Cammy Hutchison, Ross Jones, Rory McMichael, James Spencer, Callum Young, Robbie Chalmers, James Couper, Ben Evans*, Matt Russell*.
*FOSROC Contracted Academy Player
Clubs and schools can design their own kit using ‘My Macron Kit’ app