Press Pass: Ritchie keen to rediscover capital gains
Get the latest from back-row and Scotland international Jamie Ritchie as he this week spoke with media in the build up to this month's return to rugby.
How ready will the team be for the Glasgow games?
“Cockers will certainly have us ready. They are extremely physical encounters, and there’s always the Scotland thing on the line. It’s an opportunity to get back into rugby. We need to be firing on all cylinders.
“Now we’ve got a date in mind it’s easy to have a focus now. I’m not looking too far past that.”
Was lockdown a chance for everyone to regain full fitness?
‘Yeah, I think so. It could potentially have added a few years on to the careers of some of the older boys.
‘This period of time will have been the longest a lot of us will have had off. I’ve been at Edinburgh six years now and it’s certainly the most time I’ve had off.
‘Everyone came back pretty fresh. Having had three months off and then coming back into training, there was obviously going to be guys who pick up a few niggles. That’s the way our sport works.
‘This period is about trying to build up as much robustness as we can because, when the season starts, we’re probably going to be at it for a wee while without a break.
‘Everyone has come back in a pretty good place. Some boys have gained a few kilos and some have lost a few, but nothing too drastic either way.
How high should expectations be for the Glasgow games?
“Every pre-season is the same. You can do a long pre-season, do as much work as you can, but come the first game, the first tackle you have to make or the first kick you have to chase, there’s nothing that quite prepares you.
“A few guys might look a bit tired, there might be a few dropped balls and stuff but we’re certainly looking to prepare as well as we can. We’re in a pretty good place as we stand and guys are raring to go.”
Has this period given you a chance to reflect over lockdown after a manic couple of years?
‘Yeah, I’ve reflected a little bit. I actually watched back the Scotland-Japan game (in last year’s World Cup) for the first time, which was frustrating.
‘It was great to watch in the sense of it reminded me of the atmosphere on the night.
‘But it’s been a whirlwind 18 months or so. I can’t believe it’s gone so quickly. There have been a lot of highs and lows and a lot of stuff has happened off the pitch as well.
‘Lockdown has allowed me to take stock of a lot of things I probably took for granted, which now I’m extremely grateful for. It’s been beneficial to have some good family time.
It goes from famine to feast over the next few months - how ready will you be for that?
‘Yeah, within reason. We obviously need to be sensible about it because we don’t want to run ourselves into the floor. We need to be sensible about our game-time, which I’m sure we will be given the depth of back row we have at Edinburgh.
‘You’ll see some rotation in there and I think you’ll probably see some rotation in the international games as well when they come around with all the games in such a short period of time.
‘It’s an opportunity to show our depth, both with Edinburgh and with Scotland. That will be really important over the next few years with what we’re trying to build.
You might get a chance to play against Bill Mata in the Autumn Tests - relishing that opporunity?
‘I played against Bill once before. It was in my first year with Scotland we played against Fiji (in the autumn internationals in 2018).
‘He set up one of their tries, as he tends to do. It’s not the best prospect, but I’ll look forward to it.
‘Bill’s good fun, especially when you play against him. He might look angry, but he’ll give you a wee ruffle on the head and will have a laugh with you around the pitch.”
Jim Hamilton named you in his Lions starting XV for next year's tour - how much of an honour would that be?
“It looks like such an incredible experience across the board, not just the games themselves but the whole tour itself, having all the fans out there and stuff.
“It would be an awesome thing to be involved in and potentially get the chance, but I won’t be holding my breath.”
Do your think the forced pause in rugby has whet your appetite once again?
“We’ve all missed it, especially where we were when we were pulled away from it. We were in such a good place, we had a lot of momentum and shown throughout the Six Nations that we were really starting to build something. It was frustrating to be pulled away from that.
“With Edinburgh as well, we were top of the conference and flying pretty high, and it seemed typical that when we reached that stage, something would happen. It’s certainly whetted the appetite to get back into it, with both Edinburgh and Scotland. Once we’re back in we’ll be looking to come back firing.”