It’s just as well James Eddie is a good guy. Not only was the bank holiday weather excelling itself, but he had just been for his first run since undergoing shoulder surgery over the summer. But rather than complain, James was more than happy to spare some time to be the subject of our first interview of the new season!
James Eddie was happy to be the first glasgowwarriors.com interviewee of the new seasonTo start with, how did James enjoy Romania?
“I loved Romania! It was a really good tour and I enjoyed the games – overall, it was a really positive tour, a really good experience. The heat was a bit of an issue though – I think it reached 45 degrees in the second match. Now, the boys make fun of me a bit about the fact that my hair is getting a little thin on top. So to protect my forehead, I had some sun cream on. As we were lined up for the anthems, I had sun cream dribbling down my forehead and into eyes, which was stinging!!
“It really was fantastic to get the win in the final against France. I look for the positives on this tour, as getting injured was really disappointing. It happened with a tackle - it was a shoulder stabilisation – and I’ve done a bit of damage to previous work that was done on the same shoulder. So, they’re being quite cautious with it this time round and I’m taking it easy with rehab to be sure not to do any more damage. But I’m keen to get back as quickly as I can, and I’ll do it carefully this time. It’s been a frustrating couple of years for me, so I’m hoping for a good clear run without injuries this season.”
Sneak preview of international set-up
The summer tour also offered James an opportunity to get to know the new Scotland coach, Andy Robinson. “He’s coached England and been away with Lions, so it was really good to work with him. I enjoyed working with him, and with Graham Steadman. The Glasgow coaches came out too, and it was good how they met up. Things look good for Scottish rugby and I think Andy will do well. He wants to come through regularly to Glasgow to watch us train and take some of the training – he already knows the Edinburgh players, so this will be good as it will mean he knows every player, and can make sure we are all singing off same hymn sheet in terms of his plans for Glasgow and Edinburgh – we will all know what he wants out of us.”
James says as long as he's playing rugby, he's happyIt won’t have gone unnoticed to Glasgow supporters that James was taken on the Scotland A tour as cover for the lock position, as opposed to his regular position in the back row. “If I’m being honest, I would like to stay in the back row, but as I’ve said before, I’ll play wherever I can reach highest level. If you look at Jason White, he’s been successful playing in both the second row and the back row. It just depends where I can play the highest level of rugby. Basically, as long as I’m playing rugby, I’ll be happy.”
So, with less than a week left until the new season formally starts, when Glasgow face Munster on Friday, what can we expect from the new squad?
“I think this the strongest Glasgow squad ever! I know we’ve said this every year, but this year, without a shadow of a doubt, it’s the strongest squad I’ve seen since being in the club. If you go through the squad, there is competition in every position, and that’s what we’re looking for – we need that competition in order to progress and improve.
“It’s great for me, as I know that when I get back, I’ll probably be down pecking order. It’s up to me to find my way back up – to get back into starting 22, and then the first XV – that’s what we need, that competition, it’s good for us. And for the coaches, they want that headache of deciding who to pick!
Fresh faces joining the Warriors
James is satisfied with the new squad and its potential to improve“Pre-season, some guys really put their hands up – take Jon Welsh, for example, it’s only his second year as a pro, and for me, the difference in him over the space of a year is night and day. I’ve been really impressed with him and he has put his hand up, especially at the Wasps game on Friday night. He’s not done himself any harm with how he’s played in the pre-season – he’s now got every chance, I think he did very well. He does tell some terrible jokes, though! Some of them are pretty horrendous – I blame it on his electrician buddies! But he’s a really good guy, a good team guy.
“The new players are all really nice guys. They are all fitting in really well. Peter Murchie has done really well – he came up and turned up for our team run, and I think it is good that club has signed him, he has already done really well since he got there, and he even got the Man of the Match award on Friday, against Wasps. DTH has turned up now, after having a problem with his passport, I think, and he really looks the part in training. I’ve been injured, mostly doing rehab while the guys are training, so I’ve not really heard of this new nickname for him, (apparently the guys are calling him Alfie, short for Alphabet) but I’m sure it will stick if he wants it to! He’s a really good guy and he’s enjoying Scotland so far – although the weather’s not what he expected! I’m sure he’ll soon get used to training at Whitecraigs on a winter’s day!!”
“Also, I’m sure Pete Horne will have a big year – he’s really good, I rate him quite highly.”
In terms of James’ own rehab, today was his first day back running. It was also his first day training at Toryglen. “Things are moving forwards, now we’ve got Toryglen. It has top class facilities – I had a run there this afternoon – it’s quite hot inside! We’re also looking forward to having Scotstoun. It will be really good and the extra time we will save once we no longer need to travel between locations, can be used for additional analysis or skills. We drove past the site at Scotstoun a month or two ago, and it looks impressive – we will be proud to train there. Who knows what will happen after Commonwealth games, whether there is any chance of us playing there, but I really like Firhill.
“There has been money spent at Firhill this summer, to make it even more of a home for Glasgow – even a simple thing like adding more pegs for the extra rugby players in the changing rooms makes a big difference! We had a meeting last week, and Colin Thomson updated us on progress, in particular with the season tickets – we were all really pleased that tickets sales are up on last year. We had a great, noisy crowd for the Wasps game! Let’s hope we get a good crowd for the Munster game too. There is a lot of stuff that happens off the pitch, such as going round schools and rugby clubs, and doing charity things – the squad does their part, but Stuart and Nicola in the office do a really good job. I also think Response will be a great sponsor for us, and they will be doing a good job to promote us.”
James knows he's doing the dream jobWe’ve watched James develop from Outstanding Scottish Young Player of the Year in 2006, but what about the years before that, what did little James tell his career advisor he wanted to do with his life? “I always loved playing rugby at school and I loved club rugby. Deep down, I always wanted to be a rugby player. When I left school, my Dad took me to the fish market, at half past 2 in the morning, to show me how hard life could be. I was loading up vans! So to have this chance is amazing, it’s the best job I could ask for – and I plan to make the most of it, I don’t want to reach 35 and say I wish I did this or that. I want to look back and have no regrets.
“As a boy, the biggest influence on my rugby career was my Dad. Dad could never play rugby at school – he left aged 15 to go into the fish business, but he loved rugby. He had to give it up though, as Saturday is a busy day.
“So when I came to that age, he took me to my games, and took me to my club. He even helped to manage my teams, and helped out at GHA. He’s been fantastic.”
James was a supporter of Glasgow, before he ever played for the team. “JP was my biggest idol, and I feel privileged to have played with him – there are not many people who can say they have played with someone they looked up to. I used to love watching Glenn Metcalfe, and Tommy Hayes too – he scored fantastic tries, he was so good. Andy Henderson was one of the last of the old Glasgow boys, and I was sad to see him go, so it was brilliant to meet up with him in Clermont over the summer. His initiation to his new club was to have a skin-head, he looked quite funny and seems to be really enjoying it out there.”
“Playing for Glasgow definitely makes a huge difference – it means so much to me to be a part of it. I remember coming to watch Glasgow as a kid. It means a lot to me to play for this club. If I could play my whole career here, that would be fantastic, and if we could progress, I’d love to be a part of that. I believe we are more than capable of winning silverware.
“We have some really good leaders in our squad – Graeme Morrison is a seasoned pro now and he and John Barclay take charge of defence. In Al, we’ve got a good captain, and Chris helps him out. They are both good in different ways, so I think we’ve got the right structure – we’ve signed the right people. Now there is a good buzz about the team.
It all comes down to consistency
“It has been very disappointing – we’ve had games like Toulouse (which was most definitely the highlight of my career so far), but then we have games like losing against Ulster. We say this all the time though, and it comes down to consistency. We all know that it can’t continue. In fact, we addressed a few issues at a meeting at the end of last season, and there were a few home truths for people, we all know it’s not good enough. We need to be consistent, to get good wins back to back – it is the only way for Glasgow to progress as a club.
James turned out for Ayr last season and said it helped sharpen him up for his return to action with Glasgow“The guys are passionate about playing for Glasgow, they all are – and when Al, or anyone else, talks at half-time we know how passionate he is. It’s tough when we let ourselves down, for instance, with the game against Ulster at Firhill, or other games we should have won – it is tough because our supporters are fantastic week in week out. The best thing is going over to the crowd to show our appreciation when we’ve won, but then it’s so tough when we’ve lost, because we have let our supporters and our families down. It’s very hard to go out then.”
With so much pressure on the team, James knows it is important to get a break and relax. “My parents have boat on Loch Lomond, and it is good to get away from everything – it’s good to get away, get out in the fresh air and on good days, my phone never stops with guys asking to come up and enjoy it. It’s a good way to relax, to get away from the city. I know I’m very fortunate to live in such a fantastic city – some of the foreigners have come in and they think it’s a wonderful place, and so many, like Dan Turner, for example, have chosen to stay.”
In the pro player draft, James has been drawn by West of Scotland this season. Does James approve of the draft system? “I’m really happy to be drawn for West. I know John Beattie already, and he has sent me an email welcoming me to West. I will be there to watch some games in the next few weeks. I think it is important to make an association with the club you’ve been linked to and I think West will do well. They have a good squad, and John has discussed the type of rugby they want to play with me. I want as many games as I can get while I make my come-back. Last year, I played for Ayr against Stirling the week before coming back for Glasgow in the Edinburgh game – so I got a bit of match sharpness. You really need that for the Magners’ League; otherwise you’ll soon know about it, you’ll get shown up if you don’t!
Looking ahead to the new season
As it is the start of the season, the squad will obviously be looking ahead. But what about James’ own personal goals? What does he want to achieve this year?
“Obviously, the main thing is not to get injured! But, first of all, I want to get back into the Glasgow team – I know that’s going to be tough. All of the boys are playing well, so for me, it’s all about getting back into the team, getting match fit, and then playing week in week out.
“Last year, when I came back from the shoulder injury, I was on a bit of a roll, but got injured again. I’ve found that these injuries just make me want to play more. You get that initial disappointment, feeling totally gutted in fact, but then you’ve got to get over it, and get into rehab. We are lucky to have a fantastic medical staff. And I really do mean that. I’m convinced that no other team in the Magners’ League has got such a good medical team as we do at Glasgow. They will all do that little bit extra for you – of course, Gerry must be longest serving member of the club!
During James’ time playing last season, his performances drew attention from observers and journalists, with predictions of an international call-up in time for the Six Nations. “Last time, I came back and felt I was playing well, I was feeling confident, feeling comfortable with my performance and people were all saying good things. Then my best friend injured me!
“But, if I’m playing well for Glasgow, that is the main thing – anything after that is a major bonus, but Glasgow remains my main priority. If anything else is going to come, it’s all a bonus. I try to focus on myself, ignore what other people may be saying - focus on my own job and not get caught up in any press, but just go out each week and do my best and if it comes, it comes.
“It can be tough on players like Ruaridh Jackson – he’s fortunate though, he knows what he needs to work on, and he will make that step up, there’s no shadow of a doubt. Remember the Bath game – he was world class! In the games he played last year, he played well, and it’s good for us to have two cracking stand-offs – it’s fantastic to have that competition throughout squad. A few years ago, some players were a little too comfortable, now everyone is careful.
James loves playing for his home club, Glasgow“So far, in the pre-season, I’ve just been doing leg weights. It’s been a hard pre-season for the guys though. They are all looking a lot stronger. There has been a lot of focus on skills and I think we are in the best shape since I’ve been here – and I’m sure it will translate into results.
“There is a different feeling this season – we know we have to be consistent, it kills the guys to play well one weekend and poorly the next, to feel they are letting people down, and they take it personally.
“We’re looking ahead to next season, and Firhill has been really good ground for us, so we need to establish a 100% home record. We are more than capable of winning all our home games, and we have shown that we can win big games away from home – for example, the Scarlets away game. Also, the 1872 cup is a huge deal for us – in the last couple of years, we’ve let ourselves down going through to Edinburgh, and we would love to win these games back to back. Last year, the home game against Edinburgh was my first game back and what a game to be involved in! The atmosphere was fantastic – that’s the thing about Firhill, when it’s full, it’s amazing!”
James has been a firm favourite with the Glasgow supporters for several seasons, and I’m sure those supporters who visit glasgowwarriors.com will want to wish James a very speedy recovery from this latest injury. Having seen him come back from injury last year, we are all looking forward to his return to the team sheet.