Ver­non brings Test pedi­gree to Ex­iles

The Rugby Paper - - News Feature - By NEALE HAR­VEY

MAR­QUEE sign­ing Richie Ver­non is ready to spear­head Lon­don Scot­tish’s charge for a top six Cham­pi­onship place after quit­ting Glasgow for a new life.

Ver­non, 30, was called into Scot­land’s Six Na­tions squad as re­cently as March but the cen­tre has elected to pur­sue other ca­reer op­tions in Lon­don in­stead.

Con­verted back rower Ver­non told The Rugby

Pa­per: “I didn’t get any­where near the op­por­tu­ni­ties I’d have liked at Glasgow last sea­son so it’s time to move.

“The big de­ci­sion was whether to re­tire or whether I’ve got an­other year left in me, but I had some great con­ver­sa­tions with (rugby di­rec­tor) Dave Mor­ris and chair­man Mal­colm Of­ford at Lon­don Scot­tish and re­alised I could add my ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Im­por­tantly, I’ll do a cou­ple of days each week work­ing in the City along­side my rugby and the move ticked a lot of boxes. I’m look­ing for­ward to the chal­lenge and want to en­joy play­ing at what is still a re­ally good level.”

Ver­non added: “I’d al­ways en­vis­aged play­ing un­til I was 33 or 35 but I’ve made the de­ci­sion early be­cause you get to a stage where you see how pre­car­i­ous it can be with in­juries and you need to pre­pare for life after that.

“Com­ing back from an Achilles in­jury the year be­fore last brought that home to me and, hav­ing done a de­gree in in­vest­ment man­age­ment, that’s some­thing I’m re­ally in­ter­ested in and I’ll be work­ing in Lon­don for Aberdeen Stan­dard.

“The body feels good, I’m in re­ally good shape and I’ll try to make an im­pact at Scot­tish.”

Ver­non brings a wealth of big match ex­pe­ri­ence to the Ex­iles, hav­ing been capped 24 times by Scot­land and ap­peared at two World Cups.

Scot­tish are look­ing to bounce back after fin­ish­ing sec­ond bot­tom last sea­son, with Ver­non ex­plain­ing: “The as­pi­ra­tion is to be com­pet­i­tive and, from speak­ing to Dave, they lost a lot of tight games in the last few min­utes.

“But it’s a league where you can make a re­ally big leap over the course of one sea­son and be up there chal­leng­ing the year after, so get­ting into the top six and giv­ing teams like Lon­don Ir­ish and Eal­ing a run is the tar­get.

“I’m go­ing there as a cen­tre but I played a few times for Glasgow in the back row last year as well, so if I have to get the scrum cap on again and cover for in­juries or what­ever, I’m happy to go with what the coaches de­cide.”

Mean­while, Ver­non is con­vinced Scot­land are on a fast­track to be­come Six Na­tions and World Cup chal­lengers un­der boss Gre­gor Townsend, right.

He said: “Gre­gor’s got a blue­print of how he wants the team to play and some of their at­tack­ing rugby is fan­tas­tic. They’ve got a good blend of youth and ex­pe­ri­ence and the next chal­lenge for Scot­land is to be con­sis­tent. “A cou­ple of times dur­ing the Six Na­tions they got over­pow­ered a bit, but to blood so many young­sters on tour this sum­mer has been bril­liant and beat­ing Ar­gentina shows the im­pact Gre­gor has been mak­ing. “More than any­thing else, which I saw in train­ing in March, is Gre­gor is mad about try­ing to be able to play at pace and keep that up. The speed at which they train is pretty hec­tic but that’s how he wants to blow teams away. “That’s what you need to do if you want to com­pete with teams like New Zealand and he’s de­vel­op­ing that re­ally well.”

PIC­TURE: Getty Images

City slicker: Richie Ver­non in ac­tion for Scot­land in the 2015 World Cup

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