(With thanks to Craig Watson for the photograph.)
This coming Saturday (February 6) could be the biggest day of former pupil George Turner's rugby career to date.
They say that 13 is unlucky, but not for Glasgow Warriors’ hooker Turner who is preparing to earn his 13th Scotland cap in the massive Six Nations opener with England at Twickenham in London.
To date the 28-year-old’s caps have all come in Autumn Tests, Summer Tour matches or at the World Cup in Japan in 2019, but with experienced hookers Fraser Brown and Stuart McInally injured, Turner is now set to make his Six Nations debut in the Calcutta Cup fixture.
And when Turner does run out onto the pitch in a match which has added significance because it is the 150th anniversary of the first playing of the fixture in 1871, he will have a new supporter watching him on TV and cheering him on.
Daughter Elizabeth, known as Lilly, was born just three weeks ago joining his fan club, alongside Turner’s wife Madeleine, son William and stepson Campbell.
Ahead of the big clash in a few days’ time, George said: “It would make it special to make my Six Nations debut at Twickenham. Playing in the tournament is big and playing against England away is even bigger. I will try and take it as just another Scotland game and perform as best I can, it will be a great honour to be involved.
“It would obviously create waves if Scotland can beat England at Twickenham. The team came close a couple of years ago (when they drew 38-38). We feel we have the firepower to do it, but obviously we have to apply that on the day. Maybe some players think about history, Scotland have not won at Twickenham since 1983, but personally I just think about my game and will try to apply what we’ve been talking about this week in training and put in my best performance.
“On our day Scotland can beat any team. It would be amazing, and a statement of intent, to win down at Twickenham, it would be really good.
“In terms of emotions around a big game, I am usually fine until the game comes around and it becomes more real when you arrive at the stadium.
“I have never been to Twickenham, it will be a new experience, but I’ll just do what I do and we should be alright.”
During the Six Nations Tournament over the next two months, games will take place behind closed doors and the players will be in a ‘bubble’ away from their families.
That means George will miss Lilly and the rest of his family and he added: “After the Wales game [on February 13] we should get a couple of days back with the family. After Lilly’s arrival everyone is well and healthy. There are plenty of Zoom calls as I try to help out, but at least I am getting sleep in the hotel, and maybe feeling a bit guilty!"
After leaving Stewart’s Melville College, Turner played for Heriot’s, Edinburgh Rugby and London Scottish before a move to Glasgow Warriors took his career to the next level, indeed in his 12 caps to date for his country he has scored six tries included a hat-trick against Canada in 2018.
Back in 2017, ahead of Turner’s first Scotland cap against Samoa, Bryn Lockie, who had coached him during his schooldays, said: “I guess when I first noticed there was something special about George when we toured Argentina with the school team.
“When you take boys out of their comfort zone you look to see which players not only stand up to the new challenges, but thrive in that environment. He was exceptional on the field with regards to the physicality he brought to the matches and certainly stood up to the highly physical nature of the game there.”
Fast forward a number of years and an away match to England may well be out of Turner’s comfort zone too, but the ESMS community are backing him to do a great job and rise to the occasion.
The Scotland matchday squad for this weekend’s match is due to be named today.
Congratulations George and good luck for Saturday from all at ESMS!
England v Scotland is live on ITV/STV on Saturday with a 4.45pm kick-off.
Article by Gary Heatly