June International Tours

MacRae looks for stability



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Calum MacRae believes his versatility could make him invaluable to Scotland at the World Cup – but admits outside centre is where he wants to spend the rest of his career.

Utility back MacRae is one of several players looking to use their involvement with the Scotland A squad over the next two weeks at the Churchill Cup to press a claim for World Cup selection.

Having been in the Scotland A side which recorded a famous victory over England at last year’s Churchill Cup, which was staged in Canada and the USA, he is hoping to help cause a similar sort of upset in this year’s tournament, where the English have the benefit of home advantage.

The versatile 27-year-old has played everywhere in the backline apart from scrum-half, but he has now identified the outside centre berth as the position he should concentrate on as he sets about breaking into the full national side.

And having been promised that role, MacRae is eager to impress the Scotland coaching staff.

“I have spent most of this season playing at full-back, but having spoken to (head coach) Frank Hadden and (backs coach) Alan Tait it is clear that they want me playing at outside centre during this tournament,” he said.

“Luckily I have been able to get some game time there with the Border Reivers during the last couple of weeks and I’ve really enjoyed it.

“Out of all the positions I have played, 13 is probably the most demanding. You are the controller of the backline on first-phase ball and in later phases.

“But one of my strengths is in communicating and organising guys so that we have the right players in the right places, so I don’t mind that aspect of it at all.

“A couple of years ago I played a full season at outside centre, so it’s not like I have been thrown in at the deep end without ever being taught to swim.

“Marcus Di Rollo has held the Scotland number 13 jersey for quite a number of games now, but I have to back myself to put as much pressure on him as possible, and hopefully work my way into the situation where I am getting selected.

“I’ve got experience playing at stand-off, at both inside and outside centre, on the wing and at full-back, so hopefully that will help me in this situation because Frank is only allowed to take a squad of 30 players to France, which means there is not much room for manoeuvre.

“This Churchill Cup is obviously a really important tournament for a lot of the guys.

“I certainly still have aspirations of going to the World Cup, at the moment the 13 jersey is my target, so I have to play well over the next two weeks and hopefully the rest will take care of itself.”

The Scots get their campaign under way in Henley on Wednesday against the USA, before facing the hosts at Twickenham the following Monday.

Victories in both those matches would set up a final against the winners of a group containing Canada, Ireland A and New Zealand Maori.

The Scots lost 52-17 to the latter of those three teams in last year’s final.

“That tournament was a great experience and a real confidence boost for all the boys, so it would be good to put in another good performance this year,” MacRae said.

“We’ve got a strong squad with a lot of good young players and a few experienced older heads, so who knows? Maybe we can go one better this year.”

MacRae will be playing his club rugby with Edinburgh next season, and he is looking forward to teaming up with Australian great Stephen Larkham, who was unveiled earlier this week as a surprise new signing for the Murrayfield outfit.

“It is brilliant for any midfield player to rub shoulders with an individual such as Stephen Larkham,” MacRae added.

“I’m sure he will have a huge influence both on and off the pitch, and I expect everyone at Edinburgh is rubbing their hands at that prospect.

“You just don’t get a better signing than that. Even tho

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