IN terms of pace, physique, rugby intelligence, ball-playing ability and age-profile, Logan Trotter has looked like a player with the potential to step up into the pro game since he first burst onto the senior rugby scene as a 17-year-old playing for Stirling County in the Premiership during the 2016-17 season. The one factor which had not counted in his favour is luck.
“As soon as I’ve started getting into a good run of form, which comes from putting a streak of games together, I have picked up stupid injuries at really bad times and ended up being out for a fair bit,” he reflects. “It’s happened over the past three or four years. It is frustrating but that’s the way it has gone, so I just have to deal with it.”
Take, as an example, the start of the 2018-19 season, immediately after Trotter had graduated to a stage three (full-time) contract in the Scottish Rugby Academy programme. “I had just come back from the Under-20s World Cup in France in June, then we had a pre-season game at Stirling in the August and I dislocated my shoulder so I was out until the New Year,” he recalls.
Trotter moved on from the academy at the end of that season but didn’t fall off the pro game radar and, after some impressive performances for Stirling County soon after Super6 returned from its Covid lockdown last July, he was invited by Danny Wilson to train with Glasgow Warriors.
“I remember straight after the Ayrshire Bulls game at Bridgehaugh [in round four] when I ended up getting man of the match and Ben Cairns [Stirling’s head coach] came into the changing rooms after and said: ‘I’ll de expecting a call from Danny in the next two or three days’.
“I didn’t really take him too seriously at the time but I woke up the next morning to a missed call from Danny asking me if I wanted to go in for training and have a crack with them for a bit, so it came about pretty quickly.
“I played a pre-season game for them, then came in for training the following Monday morning and dislocated my finger pretty badly just five minutes into it, so I ended up being out for about three months with that.
“Those were both really badly timed ones because I felt like I was playing pretty well and things were happening, but it was all cut short before I really got a chance to see where it would take me.
“At the time, it is harder to deal with but as time goes on you recognise that what has happened has happened, so there is not much you can do about it apart from try to focus on getting back. But it definitely does eat at you the more times it happens.”
Trotter stayed connected at Glasgow for a while after his injury, and subsequently trained with the Scotland 7s squad for a couple of months straddling last New Year.
“Then it got to a break with the sevens stuff and they wanted me to go back in afterwards, but at that point I was thinking that I had just got over an injury and I wanted to get back into some sort of normality in terms of proper training and game time,” he explains. “So, I said that for the time being I want to focus on getting a proper pre-season in with Stirling and just get used to the game again.
“My rugby had been so stop-start I wouldn’t have said I was really up to speed with it all at that point, so I just wanted to get my head straight and focus on one thing, which was getting that good pre-season under my belt, playing 15s and taking it from there.”
It’s going okay, so far. Trotter has played the full 80 minutes in each of the three games played in the 2022 Super6 Sprint Series to date, picking up two man-of-the-match awards and two TOL team-of-the-week selections since moving from the wing to his preferred full-back berth during the last fortnight.
“I’ve definitely come into a good bit of form over the last two or three games, so I’m pretty happy with how things are going,” he agrees.
“Full-back is where I played practically all of my youth rugby, and it was really because Stirling County had an established No 15 in Jonny Hope when I broke into the team that I ended up on the wing. Having been back at full-back recently, I realise how much more I like it. I feel like the game is a lot more on my terms, so I can pick and choose where I get ball and what I am doing. I enjoy that freedom.
“Ben [Cairns] definitely encourages that, as he does with the entire back-three. It is almost like three full-backs playing, with everyone roaming about.”
Given the bumpy road he has travelled, Trotter is understandably reluctant to publicly set himself targets – but makes no bones about his ongoing desire to forge a career playing the game.
He currently works a couple of days per week for team-mate Adam Sinclair’s removal company, which he enjoys so long as it doesn’t leave him too knackered for training.
“Rugby is definitely my priority at the moment so I’m focussing on that as much as I can,” he says. “I don’t turn 24 until the end of September so I am still fairly young, although I don’t always feel it when you see these teenagers coming through. At 23, I feel like one of the more senior boys in the County squad.
“As a team, we’re definitely getting into the groove of things and beginning to play how we want to.”
After narrowly losing their Sprint Series opening weekend fixture away to Watsonians, County have since won back to back matches against last year’s Championship winners Ayrshire Bulls at home and last year’s beaten finalists Southern Knights at The Greenyards.
“The frustrating thing with that Watsonians game is that we played pretty bad, and we all knew it, but still probably should have won the game,” reflects Trotter. “I think that hit home with a lot of the boys, so hopefully that was a bit of a watershed moment for us in terms of not being prepared to come second best.
“In the last two games, we’ve started to play more and more like we want to, and we’re starting to get the wins now, which is pretty pleasing to see.
“With it being a home game on Friday night against Boroughmuir Bears, we definitely want to put on a show. Our view now is that we should be going into every game regarding ourselves as favourites. We’ve got the squad and we’ve got the game-plan, so there is not a game we should go into having any doubt.”