Gary Heatly talks to speedster Rufus McLean
Teenager Rufus McLean had a bit of a false start to life with Watsonians, but he is making up for lost time now and was named in this week’s Offside Line Team of the Week.
The 18-year-old Fosroc Scottish Rugby Academy back three player joined the club in the summer after impressing with the Scotland age-grade teams and Merchiston Castle School in recent years. Rufus then made his debut for the first XV in a pre-season game up at St Andrews against Heriot’s. Disaster struck when the youngster fractured his wrist in that one and was ruled out of action for a couple of months.
“It was literally my first ever run out for Watsonians, I had been keen to play having worked with the guys in training in the summer and it was just one of those annoying things,” he recounts.
“Aged 18 you always just want to play rugby so it was frustrating, but I tried to use the break from playing to really settle in with the Academy and work on other parts of my game and work hard in the gym.
“The coaches and the players at Watsonians were great at keeping me involved during my time on the sidelines and it was pleasing to finally get back and make my debut away to Currie Chieftains a couple of weeks ago.
“That result may not have gone the way that we wanted it too, but the great thing was that we had a chance to bounce back just six days later under lights at home at Myreside against Edinburgh Accies.”
And, as all of us who were there in a bumper crowd know, bounce back the team did last Friday night, Rufus running in two well-worked tries from the left wing in the 39-19 victory.
After Saturday’s four games in the Tennent’s Premiership the first XV are sitting fifth in the table - just three points out of the play-off spots - ahead of Saturday’s trip to unbeaten leaders Ayr (3pm) which completes the first half of the league campaign.
“Friday night was really good, it was nice to get a couple of tries and a win in my first home game,” Rufus said.
“We have so many good players that will create chances, so as a young player on the wing you just have to be alert and take them when they come."
“It is also really good playing alongside an experienced full-back like Josh Rowland because he is always talking to you and helping you out with positioning while he has and eye for a gap and hopefully it can mean that we can keep creating lots of opportunities from deep.
“In general I am just trying to learn from players at Watsonians, Steve Lawrie and the other coaches and the Academy coaches and see where it takes me.”
First up for Rufus and co is Millbrae at the weekend and then the young talent will hope to force his way into the Scotland under-20 reckoning come early 2019 and the age-grade Six Nations.