Quality imports have bolstered Glasgow and Edinburgh into “phenomenal seasons” believes player-turned-pundit Jim Hamilton.
The recruits by the two pro teams have proved to be difference-makers for the clubs heading into the festive 1872 Cup derbies, with Edinburgh at Scotstoun to start on Monday.
‘Teams are in a phenomenal place right now’
It’s been all @GlasgowWarriors of late in the 1872 Cup ⚔️
— United Rugby Championship (URC) (@URCOfficial) December 16, 2021
“Without getting too carried away, Scottish rugby and both pro teams are in a phenomenal place right now,” said the former international lock, now an analyst with broadcasters Premier Sports, who will exclusively show both games.
“The two wins in Europe, beating two of the biggest teams recently, underlines where the two teams are.
“We thought mike Blair may change the profile of Edinburgh but how quickly and well they have adapted to his ways?
“With Glasgow you wondered if they were going to come good? There was a question mark under Danny Wilson, of course there was, because of last year, the turnover of players they have had.
“What we are seeing is that both teams are able to field their best teams. They don’t seem to have many injuries across the board and the quality of rugby is excellent.”
Boffelli and Dempsey are difference makers
🎯 the kick from Carreras
👌 the finish from Boffelli
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) September 18, 2021
Hamilton picked out new Puma back Emiliano Boffelli for Edinburgh and former Wallaby No 8 Jack Dempsey for Glasgow as impact players.
“Boffelli plays (for Argentina) against Ireland, rocks up to Edinburgh to play against Dragons, freezing cold, how interested was he going to be, and his first touch is a score,” he pointed out. “Edinburgh have an international player in his prime and he has the skills set to play across the back three.
“I’ve been impressed with Boan Venter for Edinburgh as well; (Pierre) Schoeman gets all the attention but Venter has been exceptional.
“Dempsey has been fantastic for Glasgow. What a signing, and Josh Mackay as well. They are players that have slotted in naturally.
“McKay I thought was Scottish qualified, found out he was English qualified but hopefully he stays around. He has unbelievable credentials.
“Dempsey, and Rory Darge, the make up of the Glasgow back row looks brilliant. Six, sevens, eights that can carry the ball time and time again with that kind of physicality are important. In Jack Dempsey it seems they have a real talent that offers that balance across the back row.”
New Glasgow pack can take on anyone
— United Rugby Championship (URC) (@URCOfficial) December 21, 2021
Hamilton agrees “the shackles are off Edinburgh” under Mike Blair, and believes Glasgow now have the pack to match with any in Europe.
“Glasgow have gone back and forth a bit haven’t they, the way they want to play – the physicality or do they play wide-wide,” he said.
“The win against Exeter, that’s a big step-up. You look at the profile of some of their players now; George Turner, the physicality he brings, Zander Fagerson is a huge bloke, Oli Kebble is a huge bloke.
“Scott Cummings is fit again and Richie Gray is back. We’re reeling off big men who can play a bit as well, and we’ve already mentioned the back row.
“I don’t know if they’re actually heavier than before, but they certainly make a bigger impact”.