Edinburgh Rugby second-row Lewis Carmichael has joined Australian Super Rugby outfit Western Force on a short-term loan as part of his personal player development plan.
The agreement was brokered by Scottish Rugby’s Director of Rugby, Scott Johnson, and Edinburgh Rugby’s Managing Director Jonny Petrie and is designed to help players gain experience in a different training and cultural environment.
Lewis said: “I’m really excited to get out to Australia and it was an offer that I jumped to take.
“I watch a lot of Super Rugby, and it will be a huge opportunity for me to go and train in a new environment, hopefully get some game time and experience a different style of rugby. I feel I’ll come back as a more rounded rugby player after spending some time in their camp.
“Getting game time most weeks at Edinburgh has really helped me as a rugby player and given me a taste of what it takes to compete at this level in the professional game.”
— Melrose Rugby (@MelroseRugby) March 29, 2017
We interviewed Lewis for issue 92
He has enjoyed 2016/17 so far and the 21-year-old has a big future ahead of him.
Growing up in North Berwick, Lewis was in love with rugby from an early age and played for the local club and also North Berwick High School.
“I loved playing rugby growing up in East Lothian, it was so much fun and me and my friends spent a lot of time out on a pitch after weekends or at weekends,” Lewis recounts.
“As it is quite a small town we were quite a close bunch and as we went up the age-grades we felt like we punched above our weight. With the High School we had some great matches with private schools and I have some brilliant memories from those times.”
Lewis represented East Lothian Falcons at under-14, under-15 and under-18 levels, Edinburgh at under-17 and under-18 levels, and Scotland at under-18 level.
Before playing for Scotland at under-18 level he had missed out on under-16 selection.
At the time it was a massive blow to Lewis – “I was gutted” – but hard work and some good advice over the following 18 months or so saw him into the international fold at the next age-grade.
He made his Scotland under-18 debut against England at Darlington in 2013 and, a week later, scored two tries in the side’s victory over Ireland at Hamilton.
“That Ireland game was brilliant and for a forward to score two tries was pretty special,” he said.
“Wearing a Scotland jersey was so special and it left me wanting more of it.”
Three further caps came with the under-18s and then in 2014 he was into the mix with the under-20s.
He said: “I played in the 6 Nations at under-20 level that year and then that summer I was lucky enough to go to the World Championships in New Zealand.
“To play there, a country that is rugby mad, was amazing for me as I was only 19 at the time and it really taught me a lot on and off the pitch.
“During that event we managed to play against the likes of South Africa, Samoa and New Zealand and you always enjoy testing yourself against those types of teams.”
Overall, Lewis earned 16 under-20s caps in 2014 and 2015, playing in two 6 Nations and two World Championships, while he had also completed a rugby college course and was making strides with Melrose.
“The move down to Melrose was great for me as teenager. They set high standards there and playing there at the same time as being in the under-20s really helped my game,” he explained.
“We won the league in my first season out of school and that was an amazing feeling. I love turning out for Melrose and being there has definitely helped me get into things with Edinburgh.
“I was part of the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy and then in the summer of last year I was lucky enough to earn a full-time contract for two years.
“I remember going to Edinburgh games a lot when I was much younger and seeing Ross Ford, Chris Paterson and Alasdair Dickinson play. I was watching these players when I was 10 and coming to the games with my mates – now I’m training with them, it’s pretty surreal.
“Grant Gilchrist is my mentor. He’s helping me with my confidence calling the lineout and giving me tips about carrying ball, it’s great.
“The guys don’t treat you as a youngster and I have been pleased to be involved in so many games this season off the bench. I am learning week on week and you have to realise that whenever you come on in a game you can make an impact and that is what I have been trying to do each time.”
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