Macrae: Versatility Is An Asset

ImageCalum MacRae admits he does not mind which number he wears on the back of his shirt just as long as he can play expansive rugby during Edinburgh's trip to Newport Gwent Dragons on Friday night (29 February, kick off 7.10pm).

The 28-year-old missed the opening half of the season after suffering a severe ankle injury but has recently enjoyed a sequence of games for both Edinburgh and Scotland A.

And, after making his name at Borders as a stand-off and playing at outside-centre for Edinburgh, the Melrose man revealed he is now enjoying life at full-back and has not_decided where_his strongest position is within the back line.

MacRae said: "I haven't really thought about it too much. The last couple of weeks, I"ve been selected at 15, so I don't want to get side-tracked by thinking about other positions.

"I"ve been picked by Scotland A at 15 and I just want to concentrate on that, to make sure that when I am playing in that position I give it my best possible shot. Hopefully then things will kick on from there.

"I think versatility can be a benefit to a player's international career. I can empathise with certain players though when they get shoved around from one position to another without settling.

"I think the most important thing is to try and get a run of games in one position where things become automatic to you. Obviously if you play at a professional level then you should automatically be making decisions.

"But in order to play stand-off successfully for example you need a run of games. You need to get used to making those sorts of decisions in those types of situations.

"I think that is the same with all positions. At the moment, I"m looked at as being a 15.

"If required, I can play centre and I quite like a ball-playing role in the midfield if and when I"m selected there.

"Like a second ball playing option at 12, like Aaron Mauger plays for New Zealand and Mike Catt and Toby Flood have done for England. I'd like to play that kind of role outside of Phil Godman.

"I have got different attributes that suit different positions. But it is all about how the coach perceives you where they feel your attributes are best suited in terms of the overall make-up of the team."

MacRae crossed the whitewash in Scotland A's 10-try demolition of Ireland at McDiarmid Park last Friday and the talented back admits the performance was bordering on perfection.

He added: "I was obviously very happy first and foremost for the team. I"ve not been involved in an international team or a pro team before where we have managed to put a score in.

"We went out with an open, expansive game in mind and it came off. Almost everything clicked for us that night which made it very difficult for Ireland A.

"With regards to some of the tries we scored, our game was top notch that was what caused us to get in behind them a lot.

'some people have asked if Ireland had a very poor side, but they had professional players in their ranks of the same type of calibre that we do.

"But it was just the type of game that we played made it difficult for them to live with us. It was just one of those nights where we tried things and they came off. Hopefully that can continue.

"On a personal note, I was very happy with how I played. It is one of the few starts I"ve had at professional level; I"ve had a couple for Edinburgh and I had one for Scotland A against Italy.

"But now I am managing to get a run of games together and I"m feeling really good. Defensively, I organised the back-field really well and, from the feedback I got from Andy (Robinson), he was very pleased with that aspect of it. It is also nice to get the ball in hand and get a five-pointer."

His form has led to MacRae being handed the number 15 shirt for the trip to Gwent and he says he is aiming to play his part in taking Edinburgh's "keep the ball alive" rugby to Rodney Parade " even though when the two sides last met in October it led to an alarmingly high error count from the men from The Castle.

He said: "I think we are playing a more expansive game now. Even though the first game against Gwent at home back in October was error-strewn, the boys have started to play smarter rugby; knowing when to off-load and when to keep ball.

"Now we have been given time to play that type of rugby, the guys can take it onto the pitch without having to worry about errors. The ethos in the squad at the moment is more about the do's rather than the don'ts. So it is a very positive atmosphere.

"Mistakes can happen, but if they do happen then we have to react quicker than the other team.

"It is with the attacking side of the play is where we want to cause teams problems. We want to do that against Gwent on Friday; we know the game that we want to play."