The Rugby Paper - - Results Feature - NEALE HAR­VEY

Alex Craig’s first team de­but for Glouces­ter against Wasps a fort­night ago was a long time com­ing but it was a spe­cial mo­ment for the 21-year-old Scot­tish lock, whose five-year jour­ney from Dum­fries to King­sholm, via Hart­pury Col­lege, is an ob­ject les­son in per­se­ver­ance.

Hail­ing from a sport­ing fam­ily in which his dad played rugby for Ste­wartry RFC in Cas­tle Dou­glas and his mum was a hockey player, Craig re­alised pretty early in his for­ma­tive years that he needed to leave what was a re­mote rugby area if he was to ever achieve his pro­fes­sional dream.

He ex­plained: “My dad is a farmer and where I’m from in Scot­land is pretty ru­ral so there weren’t that many sport­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. I played my ju­nior rugby for Ste­wartry, then when I was 14 joined Dum­fries RFC, but I knew I had to move if I was to fol­low my pas­sion – rugby.

“So, when I was 16, I went to Hart­pury Col­lege to do a BTEC course. It was a pretty brave move at the time, I guess, and my mum and dad took a bit of per­suad­ing to let me go down south, but I’ve been in the Glouces­ter area five years now and it feels like my ca­reer is tak­ing off a bit.

“I did well enough at Hart­pury to get into Glouces­ter’s U18s acad­emy but it’s never been easy and I had an ill­ness two years ago that kept me out for a year and then last sea­son, af­ter rep­re­sent­ing Scot­land at the U20s World Cup in Ge­or­gia, I tore a menis­cus in my knee.

“To come through that and make my first team de­but a fort­night ago was some­thing I’d been look­ing for­ward to for a while and hope­fully I can take more op­por­tu­ni­ties now. My big tar­get is to se­cure a first team con­tract and put some pres­sure on the club’s se­nior sec­ond rows.”

An ath­letic lock in the mould of a Brodie Re­tal­lick or Maro Itoje, Craig is firmly in Scot­land’s sights hav­ing twice rep­re­sented them at Ju­nior World Cups. He said: “I was vice-cap­tain in Ge­or­gia 2017 and played ev­ery game, which was great for my de­vel­op­ment. We won four out of five games and the only team we lost to was New Zealand, so it was a suc­cess­ful cam­paign as well.

“I’m on Scot­land’s radar and my dad and grand­dad wouldn’t be best pleased if I wasn’t com­mit­ted to them so that’s some­thing I’d love to do one day. First, though, I know I’m go­ing to have to nail down a place at Glouces­ter so I want to give the coaches some se­lec­tion headaches.”

Hav­ing starred for Hart­pury un­der the tute­lage of for­mer Glouces­ter lock Mark Corn­well, Craig has equally good men­tors at King­sholm in the form of Jo­han Ack­er­mann and Alex Brown. He added: “Those guys have been great and when I watch the likes of Re­tal­lick and Itoje, they’re what you aspire to be – ath­letic, dy­namic, pow­er­ful and good in the li­ne­out.”

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