Scotland’s Fraser Brown believes the enforced break from rugby over lockdown has given players “a renewed love of what they do” as he prepares to captain his country for the first time.
The 31-year-old will lead his side out this evening (Friday) in an autumn warm-up match against Georgia at BT Murrayfield, the start of a busy period of matches spanning the end of the Guinness Six Nations as well as the inaugural Autumn Nations Cup.
Scotland have not played an international since beating France in Round 4 of the Guinness Six Nations on March 8 and their interim skipper thinks the time away has only made them keener to get going again.
“When everyone came in last week you could see the enthusiasm everybody had to come in, meet up and be part of the squad again, to learn and work hard,” he told The Courier.
“That says a lot of how excited guys are about playing Test rugby again. It’s like no other, it is fast, there will be injuries, people will drop in and out of the squad and guys may have to miss games or training through Covid.
“We have to deal with it and everybody is capable of coming in and out and meeting the challenges the next six to eight weeks bring.”
Brown, who became a father for the first time this year, was able to enjoy valuable family time in a period where players were unable to train or play.
He returned to action in August with a man of the match display for Glasgow Warriors against Edinburgh in the Guinness PRO14 and spoke of how his passion for the game grew amid the uncertainty of lockdown.
“Your appreciation for what you do grows, and your love of rugby,” he said.
“You miss the guys you probably spend most of your life with, and I think it’s not just for me but for everyone.
“When you watch some of the rugby that’s gone on over the last couple of months, you see how much better guys seem to be connecting with each other, and I think that’s because of a renewed love of what they do and who they do it with.
“The bonds between players have actually grown because of what we’ve been through over the last few months.”
Scotland took on Georgia in two World Cup warm-up matches last year, winning both, and Brown is hoping for more of the same as his side tune up for the competitive action which follows in the coming weeks.
“The game in Tbilisi, we went out there and met the energy and passion that the Georgians bring and did it really well,” he said.
“The game at Murrayfield was a lot tighter than the scoreline (36-9) reflects, and was just down them being such a big team. It takes a while for any team to break them down.
“In international rugby, you have to be on it from minute one to minute 80, you have to be disciplined in your approach, not just with the referee, but within your structures and have that patience to attack.
“There will be mistakes as it is the first time we have been together as a team in a game for quite a while, but we need to be professional enough so that we can gel, keep the processes in place and keep that discipline.”