Scott Steeled for Scotland debut
Scott Steele is in line to make his Scotland debut off the bench against Wales at Parc y Scarlets tomorrow afternoon, in the final round of last season’s Guinness Six Nations.
Earlier this year, the Harlequins scrum-half thought he would be struggling to play club rugby, never mind being named in a Scotland squad.
The 27-year-old recalls what was a difficult time for him when he was told London Irish weren’t going to offer him a new contract and then the COVID-19 global pandemic hit.
Speaking to scottishrugby.org, Steele said: “I was basically told that there was no contract for me at the club [London Irish] a couple of days before lockdown happened, so I went back home to my Mum and Dad's in Dumfries and I was thinking it’s not looking good, there is not going to be many rugby teams that are recruiting at the minute and no one knew how much money they were going to lose over the lockdown and when games were starting.
“It was a pretty stressful time and as time went on I was just hoping that something was going to come up, I was at a real crossroads over where and if there was anything going to come up and what level will that be at. At one stage I spoke to a lot of people, ex-head coaches that I’d had in the past and it could be a year that you take a contract that you’re not really happy with or not really pleased at the level and hopefully when things get back to normal you will be able to bounce back.
“Luckily there was an opportunity at Harlequins that came up. It was just through their third choice 9 decided that he didn’t fancy rugby anymore and wanted to retire, so that opportunity came and I took it with both hands and went there and it's been really good.”
Steele was named on the bench for Scotland this week and his inclusion in Gregor Townsend’s squad is a massive turnaround for the man from Dumfries.
He added: “When I was coming into camp I was thinking it has just been a really crazy couple of months for me. I think the main thing is that I managed to keep fit and came back in better shape than I was before lockdown.
“I was grateful for my Mum, Dad and brothers back home for supporting me through that time and going to Harlequins has been a really great move for me in terms of going there and playing a lot of games as they wanted to finish the English Premiership [season].
“I've managed to play a lot and impress the [Scotland] coaches, to end up here. It has been a crazy couple of months, but I couldn’t be happier with how it's ended up.
The scrum-half is expecting a real physical battle in Llanelli on Saturday afternoon and if he’s given the nod by Townsend, Steele wants to make sure he gives the backline as much quick ball as possible.
He added: “Wales are a fantastic team and they will be hurting off the result they had last week. They are a physical team so we have to be ready for that and the weather conditions might play a part in the game, but that is something we have got to manage.
“Personally, I just want to come on and contribute the way that I know I can, making sure I am getting the ball away as fast as possible and getting into our dangerous backs hands and controlling the game as 9s and 10s really should, so that is just something that I will be looking forward to.”