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Sutherland: Club uncertainty won't hinder World Cup prep

By Bryn Palmer
(Photo by Ross MacDonald/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Scotland prop Rory Sutherland aims to have his club future resolved before the World Cup but insists the uncertainty won’t hinder his preparations for the tournament.

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The 30-year-old loosehead was listed as ‘unattached’ on Gregor Townsend’s 33-man squad list for the tournament, having left Ulster at the end of last season.

The Belfast-based province offered the Lions front-rower a short-term deal last October after the demise of his former club Worcester Warriors.

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Sutherland, whose wife Tammy is expecting their third child any day now, admits he would prefer to return to Scotland, having endured a turbulent period living away from his family while at Ulster.

Glasgow, who have fellow Scotland squad loosehead Jamie Bhatti on their books, were previously interested in bringing the former Edinburgh prop home at the time Worcester were wound up.

But Sutherland, who started Scotland’s first warm-up Test against Italy and won his 25th cap as a replacement against France in Saint-Etienne last Saturday, is keeping his options open.

“I would like to stay in Scotland and I’ve made that clear, so we’ll see what happens,” he said.  “Me and my wife are trying to be very open-minded about it, trying to broaden our horizons and take everything into consideration.

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“With a young family, I’d obviously rather have a contract and know what I’m doing and be settled. But it’s one of those things you can’t control. The only thing I can control is playing well, and hopefully by doing that, it will take care of a better contract.

“These warm-up games have only helped with that, teams looking at me and being in touch with my agent, so he’s working hard in the background, speaking to clubs. I’m hoping to be signed up before the World Cup starts, but if that doesn’t happen, that’s OK.

“It’s always going to be in the back of my mind thinking about where I’m going to end up, club-wise. But my main focus now is the World Cup and looking forward to playing South Africa.”

After a final warm-up Test against Georgia at Murrayfield a week on Saturday, 26 August, Scotland will open their Pool B campaign against the Springboks in Marseille on September 10, before facing Tonga, Romania and Ireland in their remaining group games.

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Rory Sutherland
Scotland prop Rory Sutherland in action during the Guinness Six Nations match between Scotland and Italy at Murrayfield on March 20, 2021 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Being part of their summer training camps has at least allowed Sutherland to spend more time at home in the Scottish Borders with Tammy and his two sons, 11-year-old Mason and Hamish, seven, after a tumultuous season where the uncertainty caused by Worcester’s demise was replaced by a different type of personal torment.

“What has happened over these past eight months or so has been really hard for me,” he said. “I’d be lying if I said I was over what happened at Worcester.

“I always promised myself when I became a player and had a young family that I would never let rugby break us apart as a family. But it did for a little while – we were a broken family.

“I was living over in Ireland while Tammy and the kids stayed in Worcester for a while. Then they moved back to Scotland in November last year, so I was travelling back and forth from Belfast to Edinburgh. It was tough, a real emotional ride for me, Tammy and the kids.

“I was getting on a plane in Belfast, I’d get home and have that massive feeling of happiness seeing them again. But you know it is only going to last 24 or 48 hours. Then they are driving me back up to the airport and it is sadness again that I am leaving, not knowing when I am going to be back or when they are coming to visit me.”

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Happily the Sutherland clan have been reunited in recent months, as they prepare to welcome a new family member.

“He should be here anytime now,” added Sutherland, who is scheduled to fly to Scotland’s World Cup base in Nice on 3 September with the rest of the squad.

“We’re hoping the baby arrives in the next few days. It’s another boy so hopefully I’ll get to see him before I leave and spend a bit of time with him over the next couple of weeks. It will be hard for Tammy when I’m away but she’ll be OK – she’ll cope.”

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