ALTHOUGH Heriot’s have maintained their own name while other Super6 sides have rebranded, it would be a mistake to infer that they are taking a conservative approach to every aspect of the new competition. They plan to do some “interesting things”, according to Director of Rugby Neil Meikle, in order to promote their home games and to entertain those who turn up – and they have certainly taken a radical approach to their opening matches.
“We’ve tried to do things a bit differently,” he explained. “We’ve named our starting teams for the first three games. We think it’s quite important to make sure everybody gets a chance of game time and put their hand up for selection – we’ve got a very competitive squad and we’re more than happy to do that with the guys we’ve got.
“And the fact that there’s a limited number of games actually gives you the opportunity to really drive footfall at individual events. We’re doing really interesting things around our first [home] game against Watsonians, and for our subsequent home games too. We’re trying to lift it up a level and move it on from where the Premiership has been over the last five to ten years.
“I think we’ve got quite a strong brand, Heriot’s as a club – there’s quite a good legacy brand there. We felt that the best thing for us to do was to evolve and develop that brand moving forward rather than try and create something new. I really like what the other teams have done in terms of reinventing themselves. We’re reinventing ourselves to an extent as well, but we’ve got a really strong base to build on.”
A key element of that “strong base” in recent years has been Phil Smith, the head coach of the club team, but currently taking charge of the Super6 side while the club wait for Andrew Kelly to complete his commitments in Hong Kong. Jamie Parker, Oliver Brown and Nyle Godsmark are currently the coaching team with Heriot’s Blues, as the club team are now known.
“I think it’s important to give the club teams their own identity, and be able to differentiate what they’re doing,” Meikle said of the name change. “There’s a lot of guys there that put a lot of time into it – they’re not being paid the same as the Super6 guys are being paid, but it’s important that we see they’re an emphasis point for the club as well.”
Having been there or thereabouts in the league and cup over the past few seasons, Heriot’s are widely expected to be competing with the Southern Knights and Ayrshire Bulls for the honours in this inaugural season of Super6. But, while adamant that his team have every intention of winning the tournament, Meikle knows that making firm predictions – be they about the overall standard of the league or about who will win it – is difficult given none of the teams has yet played a competitive match.
“It’s almost impossible to tell,” he added. “You can look at squads on paper, but you don’t have combinations, you don’t know how teams have trained together pre-season . . . . So it will be very interesting to see, and I think we’ll probably have to wait three or four weeks to get a real good look and see how teams are going to perform.
“We’ve really just tried to build on what we’ve been doing over the last four or five seasons. We’ve got a lot more resource now in terms of time and players to plug into the team, so hopefully we can be stronger than in the last couple of seasons.
“We’ve got Ayr first up, who we played a couple of times last season, in both cup finals, so we’re looking for a better result this time round. I think we’re in a good place, but as I say you’re entering into the unknown from a competition standpoint. But we’re looking to win it.
“I think any competition we enter, we’re trying to win it. So therefore we want to be in a position to win Super6.”
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