With the FOSROC Super Series Sprint due to start next weekend, our 34-man squad is confirmed.
The FOSROC Super Series returns to Myreside on April 8th with the start of the Sprint Series. After a lengthy off-season, new Watsonians Head Coach Stevie Scott and his coaching staff have settled on their 29-man squad.
Last season was a huge success, which can be seen in the core of the squad returning to defend their crowns. In total, 18 players return to Watsonians.
New Head coach Stevie Scott said about the returning players, "It was great to see so many want to come back. I think that's down to the great structure of the club, the facilities and the foundation built around the team. These players are ready to kick on from what was a great season for them last year and that's great to see from them."
Of the 11 new faces in the squad, two of them that stand out are 18-year-old Jack Brown, who captained George Watsons College this season and made a couple of appearances for the 1st XV and Craig Davidson, whose performances for the 1st XV this season led to an U20s call up.
Scott believes that the growth and progression of both Jack and Craig come down to the hard work they've put in and the pathway that the Super Series has created for players to the next level.
When asked about the opportunities that the Super Series creates, Scott pointed to Jack Brown's last 12 months "He is a promising youngster and having had a great season with the Geoger Watsons College, Edinburgh U18s and Scotland at age grade, he's excited to step up and not just play but train with the more established players at the next level."
Craig Davidson is another 1st XV player to have had the call to the part-time professional level. Watsonians Director of Rugby Chris Hunter believes that Davidson's work over the past two seasons has earned his spot in the squad. "He has been involved with the Super Series squad, having trained with them in the gym and on the field last season whilst being a vital player in our club 1XV."
Hunter continued, "He has worked hard with Fergus Pringle, Jason Riley and now Stevie Scott to improve his scrummaging technique and all-round game. Unsurprisingly, he enjoyed a lot of game time, starting 4 out of 5 matches for the Scotland U20 6Nations campaign and didn't look out of place against professional opposition."
Brown and Davidson are added to a growing list of players who have made their way to the Super Series squad from the 1st XV, which includes Murray Scott, Ross Graham and Lomond MacPherson.
Another notable youngster in the team is Hector Patterson, who joins the Part-Time Professional set-up from Premiership Champions Hawick. Head Coach Scott pointed to the season Patterson had "He played well behind a good pack in the Premiership this season and that's what makes him the right fit for us, we hope he'll continue to develop with our team.
Meanwhile, recruitment also stretched across the Irish sea, with Centre George Pringle joining the team from the All-Ireland League. Scott is looking forward to working closely with Pringle. "We are really excited to have such a quality player coming from the All-Ireland competition. George will add great experience to the squad and is raring to go put a marker down in the Sprint Series."
The influx of younger players adds to an experienced but still young team. The squad's average age is a little over 23 years old and this isn't lost on Stevie Scott, "The Super Series is there to develop Scotland's young talent and get these players ready for the next step in their careers it's up to them to take that opportunity."
Chris Hunter believes the blend of experience at this level and those stepping up from the Premiership gives Watsonains an exciting look for the coming season, saying, "We have a great mix of youth and experience across the squad - guys like Lee Millar, Jason Baggot, Cal Davies and Seb Cecil have a few years experience at Super Series level and will continue to drive high standards across the squad both on and off the field.
"It is also great to welcome back Ross Graham, who played at the club in previously before returning to Hawick. Ross comes in fresh on the back of winning the Premiership and will be an essential player for us in the Sprint Competition. Also fighting for that number 2 jersey is young Finn Duraj, who joins from Musselburgh. Mak Wilson (Southern Knights) and Murdo Mcandrew (Southern Knights & Heriots) have valuable S6 experience to add to the squad."
Putting together a squad was part of the draw for Stevies Scott to come back to coaching in Scotland. The coach said, "I'm excited to see them play together. I knew Lee (Millar), Jason (Baggott), Ross (Graham) and Murdo (McAndrew), but everyone else has a clean slate." Putting together any team chemistry is essential and Scott believes this "It was really important to me that the new players fit with the squad. We always had enough players to choose from, but how they fit impacted who we targeted to come in."
When discussing the preparations for the Sprint Series, Scott also mentioned the importance of the 1st XV in helping with preparations "The club players have been a great help training with us each week and you can see the benefit to us and them. Both teams have made huges strids over the last three weeks and Jason and Conan and the staff have been great at buying into the sessions. The coach finished "The whole club has been growing together through these sessions; it's great for all involved.
As a club, we want to thank teams for their support and understand some players are currently completing their club rugby season fixtures in the coming weekends. We look forward to welcoming them to our Super Series squad once their club season is complete.
The FOSROC Super Series Squad hosts Heriots in a pre-season friendly tomorrow (Friday, March 31st) at Myrside. Entry is free before opening the competitive season on April 8th against Souther Knights at home.
* FOSROC Scottish Rugby Contracted Academy