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Young Watsonians captain wants to challenge the best

Kyle Traynor epitomises the eat-sleep-and-breathe-rugby philosophy which explains why, even though the national team may have their problems at the moment, there are plenty of reasons to be cheerful about the future.

Kyle Traynor epitomises the eat-sleep-and-breathe-rugby philosophy which explains why, even though the national team may have their problems at the moment, there are plenty of reasons to be cheerful about the future.

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Whether demonstrating his huge commitment in captaining Watsonians, as he prepares for this afternoon's Scottish Hydro Electric Cup semi-final tussle with Melrose at Meggetland, or offering lashings of sweat, under Andy Robinson's gaze, at Edinburgh, Traynor is one of the rising stars in the Caledonian firmament and makes no secret of his ambitions.

At just 22, the prop is currently on a part-time contract with the SRU's National Academy, an arrangement which enables him to combine training with Robinson's squad, skippering the Watsonians brigade, and studying for a degree at Napier University.

It's a hectic schedule, demanding a hard-nosed approach from those who chase sporting and academic honours at the same time, but while Traynor could hardly be more laid-back off the pitch, he is refreshingly honest in analysing today's Cup game, the winners of which will tackle either Heriot's or Jed-Forest at Murrayfield on May 3.

"This could be one of my last matches for Watsonians, but we know that we have let ourselves down in the Premiership this season, and we want to set the record straight," said Traynor. "I'm not taking anything away from Boroughmuir, but we should have chased them harder than we did throughout the winter and for them to finish more than 20 points ahead of us in the title race was unacceptable.

"We lost three games in a row in October, which put us out of contention, and since then, we have tried hard to find the consistency and momentum which slipped away from us at a crucial stage. That is why the Scottish Cup matters an awful lot to me and the rest of the boys: but, equally, we recognise that Melrose will be difficult opponents.

"They have produced a string of excellent results recently, and I am sure they will aim to be expansive against us.

"Scott Wight the Borderers' stand-off has a mighty boot on him and they have some talented backs, such as Mark Robertson and Jordan Macey, so it should be an entertaining contest, but our defence will be crucial, and we certainly can't afford to lose our shape or discipline, because they are a very dangerous side and have improved as the campaign has carried on.

"I would actually reckon they start as slight favourites, but we have bounced back in the second part of the season, so it should be a cracker."

For their part, Watsonians possess prodigious ability in such mercurial individuals as Mala Mialo, Rohan Steyl, Andrew Skeen and Dougie Brown, but it is in the boiler room, an area packed with flinty, unyielding personnel in the guise of Traynor, Kian Coertze, Torrie Callander and Willie Lipp that they may hold the edge over the Greenyards contingent.

None the less, Traynor has bigger objectives in his sights. Yes, he admits that he is under no illusions as to the magnitude of dislodging one of Edinburgh's all-international front row, but he is learning fast from his sessions with such stalwarts as Allan Jacobsen, Gavin Kerr and Craig Smith, and obviously has no interest in keeping the replacements bench warm for any longer than he can help.

"I know it will require a hell of a lot of hard work to challenge for a Scotland berth, but I've watched the likes of Tom Smith and Jacobsen and I am not afraid of getting my hands dirty, so of course I want to play for my country," says Traynor. "Everybody has set their standards high at Edinburgh and that is how it has to be, where we are all driving one another on, and where nobody's place is guaranteed.

"I am a realistic person and I fully appreciate that I have a long way to go, but I have just turned 22, which is pretty young in the prop stakes, so hopefully I can fill the boots of the guys who are 29 and 30. But the first thing is to be turning out regularly for Edinburgh, because, ever since Andy arrived at Murrayfield, the competition for places has become ever more intense.

"In fact, I have been extremely fortunate with those who have coached me. Cammy Mather who does the job at Myreside has been relentlessly focused and motivated, he has been a tough taskmaster, and he will shout and bawl at you if it needs to be done. But, there again, he also acknowledges when you have put in a decent shift and doesn't blow his stack for the sake of it. I don't believe you can over-estimate how much he has improved the squad in the last couple of years. He hates complacency, absolutely detests it, and that mindset has filtered through to everybody in the ranks. But he is one of the shrewdest, sharpest brains in the business as well."

The same praise could be applied to Traynor, who is one of a string of Scots whose consummate professionalism hints at a lustrous career. One suspects that, whatever transpires today, he can contemplate a litany of Murrayfield trips in the future.

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