Robinson: “Losing Richie Gray is a disappointment”

It’s safe to say amongst those who were delighted with how Edinburgh and Glasgow performed in the opening round of the Heineken Cup last weekend, not many would have had a bigger smile than Andy Robinson. Speaking at Glasgow’s training ground, and future playing base Scotstoun last week, there was never a better time to get some answers from the head coach of the national team on recent developments in the Scottish game regarding the futures of Richie Gray and Nathan Hines.

“Obviously the departure of Richie Gray is a big disappointment for Glasgow and for Scottish Rugby, because there has been a really big effort put in to keep him here in Glasgow. It is a shame for the club, but as a player he has the choice to make about the growth of your career. As a national coach I need to support the decisions they make.”

“Richie has chosen Sale as the place to develop him, and certainly it is a growing club, there are many players there who have real potential. The decision is made, and obviously there is disappointment for the club and fans, but we have to move on and look at the new horizons”

With such a high profile player heading south of the border, the question is asked about whether the Scottish clubs can keep and attract the key players, “what it has highlighted for me, is the work that we need to do to keep the players at Edinburgh and Glasgow, and what I like is the reaction, and work, that Mark Dodson has put in, investing in the two pro teams.”

“You have got to take each player as an individual. Ruaridh Jackson has recently resigned with Glasgow, so has Rob Harley, the same thing is happening over in Edinburgh so you take each one on an individual basis, because each player has his market worth to other teams.”

“If you look at Chris Cusiter, he went away to Perpignan, he learned different parts of his game, had a new experience and then he chose to come back. If players choose to leave, it is key that it is at the right time, when it is right for both parties, and then when they come back, because we want them to come back, what they have learnt will bring back new knowledge and experience. Those experiences are important to the development of players. It is about having the structure of working together, so that you can support somebody that goes.”

When other players, such as John Barclay, whom you expect to be in this prime position for the new experiences are mentioned Andy remains tight-lipped. “These are conversations that will be had with the players involved,” he says. “But all of these decisions made are right for Scotland, because it is their choice.”

Before talk moves towards the Heineken Cup, a few moments are spared to discuss Nathan Hines and his announcement of retirement from international rugby. Andy is full of praise for the player who has contributed much to the national game.

“I have known about this for a while. Before we left for New Zealand he talked to me about his plans. He has had a great career for Scotland; to have come through playing for Gala, picked up the injuries he has, and still perform like he does in the second row. What shocked me about Nathan, when I first worked with him in Scotland, is how laid back he was before a game. But the second he crossed the whitewash, he would turn it on and perform. He is exactly the type of player you want to have in your squad.”

by Christine Lester