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The 'didn’t frazzle my head' Rory Darge reaction to Scotland shock

By PA
Scotland's Rory Darge (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Rory Darge has admitted he is glad to have had a full week to get to grips with the surprise of being asked to captain Scotland for the first time against Italy in this Saturday’s Rugby World Cup warm-up match at Murrayfield.

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The 23-year-old Glasgow flanker, who has only seven caps to his name, was stunned when head coach Gregor Townsend told him last Friday that he had been chosen to lead an experimental XV, with regular skipper Jamie Ritchie among a raft of senior players given the weekend off.

The news was made public on Wednesday when the team was announced, and Darge is relishing the honour. “It’s a bit of a weird feeling,” he said, speaking at the captain’s run press conference on Friday.

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“I’m honoured, obviously, but I have only got seven caps at this level so I didn’t really see it coming, but I’m delighted that Gregor has picked me as a captain and sees me as a leader.

“It was pretty special when he told me. It was on the Friday morning last week, not long before he announced the team (internally). I’m glad he did it on the Friday so I had time to get my head around it.

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“It didn’t frazzle my head, but I was just glad that I had time to digest it and tell my folks, take time to think about what is expected of me throughout the week and to have those conversations with guys who are more experienced in the role. I know it doesn’t seem like long, but it has just been a bit more time to dwell on it and think about what I’m going to do. It has been a pretty special week.”

Saturday’s game marks Darge’s first appearance for Scotland since the third summer Test against Argentina last July after an ankle injury ruled him out of the autumn Tests and the Six Nations. “It was the worst injury I have had and it was my ankle, so you can lose range and get quite stiff,” he said.

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“The physios and strength and conditioning staff at Glasgow, and the other boys who were injured, helped me get through it because it was pretty tough going into Scotstoun early in the morning when boys were either through here (in Edinburgh with Scotland) or on holiday.”

Darge has been buoyed by the support of other senior players in the squad since being named skipper. “I don’t think so,” he said when asked if the captaincy added any extra pressure on his shoulders. “There are different responsibilities, but it doesn’t change how I act.

“My biggest responsibility is to play well on Saturday so that is what I am focusing on doing. The other stuff will come along with it. I have felt very supported and that has helped. It’s a big honour for me, quite a big deal, so to feel like you are supported and backed is essential.

“I’m just excited for the game. It’s been a long time since I last played rugby (for Glasgow in the Challenge Cup on May 19). Pre-season has been tough so to get the opportunity to put it out there, it can’t come quick enough.”

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Shaylen 6 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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J
Jon 11 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Ioane is going to be more than good enough to lock up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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