Rising Star: Jack Blain
Winger Jack Blain is the next up and comer to be featured in our Rising Star series as the first year pro discusses settling in to an already talented back-three position group at the club.
Each Rising Star piece, brought to you by club sponsor Wood, will aim to bring you closer to the next generation of the club’s rising stars.
Jack – it’s been an up and down year with injuries and setbacks, but how would you sum up your first season as a pro player?
“Yeah it’s been a bit disappointing. I’ve had a few injuries, but I’ve certainly learned a lot and just being in the pro-environment every day with the team has improved me in so many different ways.
"Whether that’s out on the training field or in the gym, talking to certain players about different tactics or techniques and just improving my knowledge of the game.
"I’ve really loved it. I know I haven’t played as many games as I would have loved, but the training has been awesome and of a high standard. I’ve improved so much as a player this year."
We have a lot of experience in our back three. Who has really taken you under their wing this season and helped you kick on?
"I talk to most of the back-three guys and you’re right, we have so much quality there. Duhan is someone who has been in brilliant form and is great to talk to about the skills you need on the wing.
"Darcy and Blair are obviously involved with Scotland and are international quality players. I’ve been able to take so much from their games.
"Guys like Damien Hoyland and Jamie Farndale have also been really helpful. Everyone in that back-three group is so friendly and you can ask them anything, any time.
"Eroni Sau leaves most of his talking on the field, he’s a do-er, not a show-er! He’s someone that you can just sit back and watch, what he can do with ball in hand is ridiculous. Not someone that you want to be up against that’s for sure."
You look at someone like Darcy Graham who is only two years older than yourself. He had a great Scotland U20 career and then came onto the pro scene with a bang. Does that give you hope that you can make the transition?
"It’s really helpful speaking to Darcy. He played Scotland Sevens, which I’d be really interested in doing as well. I’ve talked to him and Jamie Farndale about what it’s like playing on the circuit and how it can be huge for your own game.
"Darcy took his chance and has since played some amazing games for Edinburgh and Scotland. It’s pretty cool to be able to just talk to him about that and taking wee things from his own game.
"Seeing him progress so quickly and move up into the national team definitely gives you that hope and belief that you can do it yourself."
You’ve spoken about the club’s stars, but who are some of the unsung heroes at Edinburgh that you train with day in and day out?
“Ruan Steenkamp – when he was at the club – was captain of team bin juice. He was always doing inspirational speeches and was just a great guy to be around!
"Most of the guys who are in the reserve squad or opposition XV keep it pretty light hearted and it’s a lot of younger players, like myself, involved as well. We all try to keep each other’s heads up, especially when Kitty is going through some of his drills!
"It can be hard, don’t get me wrong, especially when we’re going up against the first XV. If I had to give anyone a shout out, it would be Dan Winning, he’s a favourite at the club."
Edinburgh are now picking up a lot of players that you were involved with at U20 level, including Rory Darge, Conor Boyle and Jamie Hodgson. How cool has it been to be involved in that group coming through the system?
“Yeah, I have a really strong relationship with all those guys, just because we’ve played together for a number of years now. It really is just an exciting time for this crop coming through and hopefully we all get a chance to make that next step.
“The more younger guys that come through the better. It’s great to have that core group of mates at the club, that you’ve played with right through your own career.
“To see someone like Dan Winning make his pro debut against Connacht, earning a few scrum penalties and forcing a penalty try was just amazing to see.
“Hopefully we all get the chance to play for Edinburgh together. That would be an awesome experience.”