Blain's world: Jack enjoying first XV exposure
It’s been a beautifully chaotic few weeks for Jack Blain after nailing down a place in Edinburgh Rugby’s starting XV.
A first home start, first senior score, first appearance in the Guinness PRO14 Team of the Week and first Glen Moray Try of the Month award – you’d be hard to find a player that has enjoyed himself more in recent weeks than the up-and-coming fullback.
And whilst the results haven’t been perfect, Blain’s promising performances in the No. 15 jersey have given the Burgh faithful plenty of hope for the future, with Blain himself admitting that it’s shaping up to be a great end of the year.
“It’s certainly not been too bad a month,” explained Blain. “Definitely a decent end to a year that I think most people will want to forget.”
“Getting my first two senior scores for the club in the one match was great! I felt ecstatic on the inside, but I didn’t really want to celebrate too much because we were still behind on the scoresheet.
“Obviously since I just grew up down the road, Edinburgh’s been the club that I’ve always supported and stuck with, so to be able to get on the scoresheet for them was pretty special.
“While the final score wasn’t in our favour unfortunately, it still didn’t take away from the feeling I had.”
Whilst the two tries might have been the most memorable of his influences on the game, Blain was a jack of all trades on the night, contributing some noticeably aggressive breaks forward into contact, and cutting some pinpoint direct lines into the opposition half.
And fullback revealed it’s an aspect of his game that he’s been working on behind the scenes.
“Part of being able to improve and try these more aggressive runs is just a confidence thing to be honest, and I guess that comes with game time.
“But obviously, a lot of it is gained through what we work on in training and Duncan Hodge – our attack coach – has been great with that for me.
“I’ve been able to go through clips with him, and from there, really work on just trying to be more aggressive when I’m on the ball, so it’s good to know it’s working!”
Edinburgh’s internationalists are expected to return for this weekend’s Heineken Champions Cup opener against La Rochelle, and despite the likeliness that Blain will drop out of the starting XV, the fullback still believes those experiences of the past five fixtures will stand him in good stead moving forward.
“We train at such a high intensity anyway that it’s almost kind of game-like, but being able to actually play in these matches gave me so much more confidence.
“I feel like they have been tough games, with some of them being in particularly challenging conditions, so there’s been so many learning opportunities to take.
“The last time I played a game was in March, so to get five games in a row is so good, and to be able to then review them afterwards? There’s so many things I can learn and take forward from these matches alone.”
For Blain, the Heineken Champions Cup is the pinnacle and would have felt like a long shot only months ago. However, with significant game time under his belt, a run out against Sale Sharks or La Rochelle isn’t far off.
“To actually feature in the Heineken Champion’s Cup would be pretty special.
“Obviously, those are the big games, and you have to be at your best, and win every game you play.
“I remember Edinburgh’s Heineken Champion’s Cup campaign in 2018 quite well, as that was my first year with the squad. The game against Toulon was obviously a big win, and then the victories over Newcastle and Montpelier were unforgettable.
“I’m eager now to try and recreate wins like that, so to be a part of the squad and help the team accomplish those kinds of goals would be amazing.”
A Champions Cup appearance is one thing, but what about the perfect Christmas gift? For Blain, the answer is easy.
“Probably for fans to be allowed back in the stadium!
“It was a bit weird playing in such a big, empty stadium like BT Murrayfield, so if I had the chance, it would definitely be to bring our supporters back in, get some atmosphere in the stadium and just really have them get behind us in person!”