Our Scotland training camp has been great so far. It’s tough and very challenging, but enjoyable too.
I didn’t play in April and May, which gave the broken hand I’d picked up in the Six Nations a chance to heal. The guys that did play through to the end of the season then got a decent break as well, so by July we were all at the same stage.
We started our training camp at Murrayfield and it was good to see the guys who play outside Scotland again. We’re spending time at St Andrews too, where we’re very well looked after, and it’s good to have a change of scene.
Every single player has been looking forward to the game against Ireland on 6 August because it means pre-season, which is incredibly hard work, is behind you. We’ll carry on working right through until we go to New Zealand, but the bulk of it is done now.
Our other warm-up is against Italy on 20 August, just before the final World Cup squad of 30 is named. I don’t think any player will go into the two games with the idea of being selfish to impress the coaches; you impress by playing well within the team and helping the team play well.
The new guys in the squad – Rob Harley, David Denton and Ryan Grant, plus Jack Cuthbert, who isn’t capped yet – are fitting in well and working their socks off. Everyone is focused on working hard.
The World Cup captain hasn’t been named yet so I don’t know if it’ll be me but I’ll definitely play a leadership role. We have a bunch of guys that have been around for a long time. Chris Paterson has done RWC preparations since 1999 so he’s had his fair share of these camps.
If I get in the squad, this will be my first World Cup. In 2007 I wasn’t selected. It was tough after the 16 weeks we’d put ourselves through. There will be ten guys who are disappointed when this year’s squad is named on 22 August. But it’s part of rugby. You have to get selected every week, for your club or for the Test team, but World Cup selection has more to it!
You just have to do absolutely everything you can to get selected so if it doesn’t work out you have no regrets. I looked back in 2007 and knew I couldn’t have worked any harder.
I haven’t played a Test in New Zealand but I went there with a combined Scottish Schools and Youth side and the following year with the Glasgow Thistles development squad. I was there for five weeks both times – it’s a great country.
It was a shock to the system as an 18-year-old to find out how important rugby is over there. On the first trip we stayed with families and you’re sitting there eating dinner and talking to people that have nothing directly to do with rugby but whose rugby knowledge is incredible.
It’ll be a huge honour to go there for a World Cup. It’s a great place to play rugby and they’ve been up there with the best in the world for many, many years. I’ve just got to make sure I get on that plane.
This article appeared in the September 2011 issue of Rugby World Magazine.
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