George Thornton, who was brought up in Leicestershire, enjoyed regular breaks in Scotland as a youngster – but he is expecting anything but a holiday on Friday night when the under-20s take on Italy.
The sides meet at Broadwood Stadium having both lost four from four to date in the 6 Nations.
Neither outfit wants to finish bottom of the table – and winless – heading into the Junior World Championships in Georgia in May and June, so this clash has taken on extra importance.
Scotland loosehead prop George, 20, said: “We were really disappointed with the way the scrum went as a team down in England last weekend [in the 33-5 loss], we really felt we could go down there and take that weapon away from them as well as their lineout.
“We did take their lineout away from them in the first 20 or 25 minutes, but we were really disappointed in the scrum. It is something we have worked really hard on in camp and pride ourselves on. In some other games in the 6 Nations we have dominated in that area, but it didn’t happen last week.
“The lads have been working on it in the past few days and we know we need to put right a few wrongs against Italy who have a big scrum. We definitely took away a lot of positives from the England game, we defended for 20 minutes without them scoring while we stuck to our game plan.
“However, like most games we have been in things with 15-20 minutes to go and then teams have pulled away from us.
“We are frustrated because we know that we can play at this level. We have to change our mindset and kick on and win these games.
“We believe in ourselves and this is a huge game. It helps that we are at home, but Italy will be no pushovers and we have to come out firing from the first minute and put in an 80 minute performance that we know is in there and that our supporters deserve.
“It will be a brutal first 20 minutes as both teams are desperate for a win, but we cannot let the pressure overwhelm us.”
As mentioned, George was born and raised in Leicestershire in a little town called Market Harborough and that is where his rugby journey began.
“I played local and county rugby and then went to Moulton College in Northampton where I got picked up by the Scottish Exiles,” he explained.
“I always knew about my Scottish roots because my mother’s family are from North Berwick and had been brought up around that area. When I was young we used to come on holiday to Scotland every year to visit family, so it was great to get in with the Exiles.
“I played for the Exiles and then Scotland under-18s and then Bishop Burton College [in East Yorkshire] where I study sports coaching now was recommended to me.
“I went and had a look around and I thought it was great and being there has really helped my rugby develop over the last year or so.
“My course is due to finish in May and then the Junior World Championships are on, so there is plenty coming up.
“However, for now all I am thinking about is this Italy game and getting this much needed win on Friday night.”
Thanks to Scottish Rugby/SNS for the photo of George Thornton
‘Keep It SCRUM’ for all the news and views about the 6 Nations tournament – and read SCRUM 92 here
To subscribe for FREE click here