As the Scottish Thistles prepare for their last tournament of the 2014 GB7s Series, head coach Graham Shiel has made three changes to his squad with Alex Cox, Richard Mill and Gregor Young stepping up to the Scotland 7s squad to play in FIRA in Lyon this weekend.
After an impressive season with Melrose, Joe Helps has been drafted in to boost the playmaking ability in the middle of the park, as well as increasing the physicality of the Scottish side. Helps has been hugely influential for Melrose, who were crowned Kings of the Sevens and the RBS Premiership Champions in 2013/14. After a number of seasons demonstrating huge potential Helps has now been given the opportunity to gain some experience in elite sevens.
Shiel has also acquired the services of Currie flyer, Ruaridh Smith, who was a part of the wider Scotland under-20 squad during the 6 Nations in February and March. After a promising season, Smith has been called in, adding size to the back division. ‘‘Big, strong and athletic,’’ as described by coach Shiel, the rookie knows his way to the try-line and is sure to be a hit at the Colwyn Bay tournament this weekend (Saturday 7 June).
Scotland under-18 flanker, Fraser Christie has also been given the chance to impress in a Thistles shirt after doing so for Stewart’s Melville FP towards the end of the season. After representing regional sides at every level from under-16, the abrasive back-row has made a seemingly effortless transformation into the physicality of adult rugby.
Shiel’s men are hoping to carry their good form into this weekend’s tournament and secure a third top four finish, with the opening match against last weekend’s Edinburgh winners, England IPF, which kicks off at 1.30pm. The side then face the British Army and Apache.
It will be good to see how the older players support the youngsters in the squad and indeed how the more experienced guys feed off the energy the new players will bring.
‘’It may be a big step up from where they were last year but if the performances of this season are anything to go by, this squad is more than capable of achieving success on the GB7s stage.’’
Scottish Thistles to compete in the final leg of the GB7s tournament in Colwyn Bay on Saturday (7 May): Murray Douglas (Heriots), Ryan Godsmark (Edinburgh Accies), Dean Kelbrick (Ayr), Fraser Christie (Stewarts Melville), Joe Helps (Melrose), Tom Wilson (Melrose), George Horne (Howe of Fife), Darren Clapperton (Selkirk), Alex Frame (Cinderford), Ruaridh Smith (Currie), Liam Steele (Heriots), Callum Anderson (Melrose).