Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rugby: Sevens can be heaven for Cairns and Capital

BEN CAIRNS is convinced that Edinburgh Rugby is in a win-win situation thanks to their heavy involvement in this weekend's Emirates IRB sevens at Murrayfield.

Cairns says: "Hopefully we can benefit from understandings already developed in the 15-a-side game but there are also opportunities to form on-field relationships with new signings Lee Jones and Alex Blair, which can stand Edinburgh in good stead.

"It helps, too, that Colin Shaw and Mike Adamson (both Glasgow) are old colleagues who I enjoy playing alongside."

Whatever happens Cairns is looking forward to drawing on sevens experiences to make Edinburgh more competitive.

"I'm delighted to have signed on for another three years and hopefully a call up to the sevens squad can play a part in a recall to the full international side as well as looking to do even better than last year when we reached the semi-finals at Murrayfield.

"I haven't played sevens since being included three years ago when Scotland won all three pool matches on the first day and welcome this chance."

Cairns, out of favour with Scotland since the opening match of the 2009 Six Nations, adds: "I've had feedback and what I am working on is a personal thing. I'm only 24 with, hopefully, my best rugby years ahead.

"Playing sevens is a chance to showcase what I can offer, especially as Scotland have done well in the Murrayfield leg of the circuit previously.

"A lot of the skills required are similar to what we do in training with Edinburgh but, of course, they have to be performed under more of a spotlight at sevens.

"By raising standards over the next couple of days there will be benefits on the Scotland A tour to the Nations Cup this summer as well."

As an example of how good a springboard sevens can be look no further than Roddy Grant who starred in the 2009 tournament before going on to be named Edinburgh's "players' player of the year" a fortnight ago.

Grant, part of the latest sevens squad, said: "I was really humbled to be singled out by my fellow players and it is undoubtedly a confidence boost.

"I'm sure sevens played a part. Tactics are different but every individual skill is magnified.

"So much so that, if you miss a tackle, it can lead to a try. That concentrates the mind and being involved in a sevens team which did well at Murrayfield a year ago enabled me to set my personal standards a bit higher than might otherwise have been the case.

"I've also learned, through sevens, a bit more about playing in front of big crowds and dealing with matters such as getting my mind right for ties coming close together."

Grant finished the season as acting Edinburgh captain and that experience is something he hopes to draw on this weekend.

Scotland open against perennial winners Fiji although, on the overall grand prix circuit, it is a straight fight between Samoa and New Zealand for the title.

Welcoming the Fiji challenge, Grant added: "Everybody knows Fiji have an amazing sevens tradition but we beat them at the London tournament last year.

"It's a chance to put down a marker and set ourselves up for the next couple of games."

Next up for Scotland are surprise packets USA, who are already benefiting through sevens being included on the schedule for the 2016 Olympics.

"As for Wales they got to the quarter-finals in London so we know we are up against a form side. Hopefully our home crowd will be noisy."

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