TWO former Berwick players have been selected in an extended Scotland Club International squad.
Heriot’s centre Max Learmonth and Melrose prop Gary Holborn have been included in the 36-man squad picked by Hawick head coach Phil Leck.
Learmonth, who played for Scotland Under-19s in 2008/09, left Berwick in the summer of 2008 to join Watsonians, before moving to Heriot’s two years later.
He also had a short spell with English Championship side Rotherham Titans at the start of this season.
Holborn is a former Berwick and Jed-Forest captain who retains a strong connection with his home town Northumberland club.
Hawick coach Leck was appointed to the role of head coach, despite operating in the second division. It was a controversial move by the SRU but the leading Premiership contenders declined to apply for the role.
The SRU then turned to Leck, who worked with the Sale Sharks academy before joining Hawick, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, he has called up Hawick stand-off Rory Hutton and Watsonians full-back Rory Steele – two of the National League stars this season – for the 2013 club squad.
They join 34 players from the top division with Ayr and Gala, first and second in the RBS Premier Division respectively, boasting seven and six respectively, and include a handful of pro team academy players.
Scotland will play their Irish counterparts for the Dalriada Cup at Ayr’s Millbrae on Friday 8 March and the XV of France away, bidding to win both games for the first time.
Leck has Stirling coach Graham Young as his assistant and spoke widely to coaches in the Premiership before selecting the squad.
“I have watched as many Premiership matches as I can on video and the nominations from the clubs have been very positive,” he said. “Coaches across the board have been honest and offered encouraging feedback about all the players we have been looking at.
“We will first work with an extended squad. I will explain my game plan to them and then we will do lots of match scenarios to prepare and see who executes that plan most effectively. It is also important to me that the players have freedom to express themselves and play with confidence.
“These matches are a massive honour for the lads and we hope a good crowd will get behind us at Millbrae for our game against Ireland. “I’m really excited about the challenge ahead. Coaching an international team is a massive honour.”
SCOTLAND CLUB INTERNATIONAL SQUAD
Backs – Callum Anderson (Aberdeen Grammar), Ross Curle (Ayr), Jamie Forbes (Currie), Stuart Edwards (Stirling County), Danny Gilmour (Stirling County), Craig Gossman (Ayr), George Graham (Gala), Rory Hutton (Hawick), Dean Kelbrick (Ayr), Max Learmonth (Heriot’s), Murray McConnell (Ayr/Glasgow), Lee Millar (Gala), Craig Robertson (Gala) Rory Steele (Watsonians), Fraser Thomson (Melrose/Glasgow).
Forwards – Alex Allan (Edinburgh Accies/Edinburgh), Fraser Brown (Heriot’s), Kevin Bryce (Heriot’s), Mark Cairns (Currie), Greg Campbell (Edinburgh Accies), Nick Cox (Ayr), Gary Graham (Gala), Jason Hill (Heriot’s), Robin Hislop (Boroughmuir/Edinburgh), Gary Holborn (Melrose), George Hunter (Ayr/Glasgow), Ewan McQuillin (Gala), Ross Miller (Melrose), Andrew Nagle (Melrose), Luke Pettie (Gala), Andrew Redmayne (Dundee HSFP), Grant Runciman (Melrose), Scott Sutherland (Ayr), Jamie Swanson (Boroughmuir), Dan Teague (Edinburgh Accies) and Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Accies/Edinburgh).