ACADEMY FOCUS | Luke Crosbie

A full season can take its toll on a team and strength in depth is now, more so than ever, vital within a playing squad. As Richard Cockerill’s side look to continue their policy of introducing youth into their playing rotation, we met with Edinburgh BT Sport Academy prospect Luke Crosbie, who is chomping at the bit to leave his mark on the main squad.

A product of Livingston RFC, Crosbie rose through the ranks of the West Lothian side before an opportunity arose at capital outfit, Currie. “I’ve been with Currie since I moved there in first year of High School,” said the 20-year-old. “I played at Livingston and that’s where I started off my rugby career, however, around about under-16s I got the chance to move to Currie because there were better opportunities there. Since then, I’ve moved through the age grades and eventually got myself into the senior XV.”

Crosbie, who operates across the back-row, has been a permanent fixture in Currie’s emerging side since breaking into the first team two seasons ago. The Malleny Park outfit, who this season rebranded to become the Currie Chieftains, are led by former Edinburgh centre Ben Cairns – a coach Crosbie is full of praise for.

“Ben is great coach and he’s good with the younger guys who are coming through,” admits the back-row. “He’s always willing to give opportunities to younger players. We have a lot of guys at Currie who played their part in the under-20s campaign, so he’s really great at understanding our workload. Whilst some coaches may be selfish, he knows when we need a rest, or need to play.”

This year feels like a fresh start. All the lads who are stage three academy are involved every day, so we're becoming more immersed with defensive calls and becoming more familiar with what the coaches ask of us. It's definitely been helpful training with the squad every day.

Following a string of impressive performances with the Scotland under-20 squad during their successful World-Cup campaign in Georgia, Crosbie was asked to join Edinburgh’s pre-season training camp in St Andrews. The abrasive back-row made an impression on the capital side’s coaching staff and thus began his breakthrough into first-team action.

“I took part in the training camp at St Andrews and they thankfully wanted to keep me on - so I’ve been training full-time since then. After the pre-season games, and before the league campaign kicked-off, they decided that I should focus on the strength and conditioning side of things. I needed to be more robust so I can handle the strenuous nature of professional rugby.

“There has been a real focus on gaining weight, so If do end up playing in a match I’m able to handle myself better in that environment. I’ve probably gained around six kilograms in a short period of time, so I’ve responded well to the conditioning block.”

“This is my first season training with the professionals, so it’s fantastic that we’re being given a chance. Obviously, there was a run of bad results last year, so I think there was probably more of a focus on just purely the first XV last season, rather than getting the academy boys through.”

“This year seems like a fresh start. All the lads who are stage three academy are involved every day, so we’re becoming more immersed with defensive calls and becoming more familiar with what the coaches ask of us. It’s definitely been helpful training with the squad every day.”

Although Crosbie came off the bench in both of Edinburgh’s pre-season fixtures against Sale Sharks and Newcastle Falcons, the 20-year-old has yet to feature in a competitive fixture for the capital side. Whilst the back-row is clearly eager to pull on the black and red in the near future, he admits that his immediate focus is on proving himself during his six-week training period.

“When I was put on this six week training block, my original focus was to just invest everything into that period. I really wanted to prove that I have the right mind-set for the professional game. Whether it was my weight-programme or eating programme, I just wanted to fully focus on those challenges. If I keep working hard, and an opportunity arises, then I’ll be confident that I can step in and show my worth. I travelled with the team to Leinster and it was cool to see how a professional side works on the road too.”

“The Academy guys are slowly being introduced into squad, which gives us great confidence. A lot of the times when you’re thrown into a training session you want to just settle in. There is a survive, not thrive mentality – but the confidence that’s been shown in us has allowed us to really express ourselves.”