STIRLING COUNTY head coach Ben Cairns believes that he has managed to add experience and know-how in key positions in his squad which will help the team improve on a frustrating first season of Super6. The Bridgehaugh men will kick-off the 2021 campaign by hosting Southern Knights this Saturday afternoon [kick-off 3pm].
The Caledonia side has retained nearly 60 percent of their squad from the inaugural season of the FOSROC Super6, with five more players stepping up from the club’s Tennent’s National League One side, Stirling Wolves, including: Callum Cruikshank, a young back-row who has represented Scotland at under-18 level, centre Craig Robertson and prop George Breese, who made appearances for Scotland in all five of their U20s Six Nations matches in Wales earlier this month.
Archie Russell, a former Scotland Under-20s midfielder and younger brother of Finn, returns to the club after spells playing for Ayr in the Premiership, Cambridge University in the Varsity Match, and Boroughmuir Bears in the first season of Super6.
Another new face is Stevie Hamilton, a full-back or winger originally from Dalkeith, who was part of the 2020 Scotland Club XV side, and most recently played for Currie Chieftains.
While not a new signing, No8 Ali Mackie will feel like a reinforcement given that injury restricted him to just one appearance during the 2019-20 season, and he will be hoping that he can recreate the form he produced in that match when he scored a hat-trick of tries to help topple top of the table Watsonians.
Hooker Reyner Kennedy, brother of Scotland Women’s international Megan, will captain the side once again.
“Spirits are high within the group, everyone is buzzing to get the campaign started,” he said. “Preparation has gone well, our pre-season fixtures have allowed us to blow the cobwebs away after the long break.
“Southern Knights are first up which always brings a close encounter. We look forward to the challenge at Bridgehaugh in front of a good crowd.”
Of the five players aligned to Stirling from the Scottish Rugby Academy, three – stand-off Euan Cunningham, winger Ross McKnight and second-row Max Williamson – were involved in Scotlands Under-20 Six Nations campaign the summer.
Former Scotland Under-20s prop Murphy Walker is another academy prospect in the squad, and he will be desperate to get some decent game time after missing all of last season with a hamstring tear. The fifth academy player in the squad is hooker Angus Fraser, a former recipient of the MacPhail Scholarship who has previously represented Scotland at U18 and U20 level.
“We are delighted to finally have the full 32-man squad confirmed, we are really happy with the final squad assembled,” said head coach Ben Cairns.
“There is good depth and versatility within the squad that will enable us to play in different ways. We’ve brought in some key individuals in pivotal positions with plenty of experience and we look forward to seeing the impact they have on what remains largely a young and exciting group.
“We cannot wait to get into the new season now and believe we have the squad capable of going all the way.”
Stirling County squad to compete in the 2021 FOSROC Super6 –
Forwards: Lewis Skinner, Adam Wood, Billy Dineen, JP Phelan, George Breese, Murphy Walker*, Reyner Kennedy©, Josh Van Vureen, Angus Fraser*, James Pow, Bradley Luney, Byron Bowes, Max Williamson*, Ali Mackie, Callum Cruikshank, Connor Gordon, Dean Taylor Menzies, George Arnott.
Backs: Caleb Korteweg, Kristian Kay, Marcus Holden, Andrew Goudie, Euan Cunnningham*, Archie Russell, Craig Jardine, Landon Hayes, Craig Robertson, Grant Hughes, Logan Trotter, Ross McKnight*, Tom Roche, Stevie Hamilton.
*FOSROC Contracted Academy Player