Monroe Job – Bagging plenty of experience in 2023
From a five-month excursion in South Africa as part of the MacPhail Scholarship, to the U20 World Trophy in Kenya and finally a Super Series campaign in Melrose with Southern Knights, 2023 has been full of excitement for Monroe Job.
Part of the first trio to experience the MacPhail Scholarship since 2020, Job headed out to the Stellenbosch Academy for Sport in January. But his journey began at Philiphaugh, starting out at Selkirk minis and progressing all the way to their first team.
“I started playing minis at Selkirk Rhinos. I just went along with the a few mates; I had a friend from my home village who was quite interested as well so I started around P3-P4 and then never really looked back. I stayed with Selkirk all through the minis, through high school and the youth team and then up into the senior team.
“I then got the opportunity through Scottish Rugby, the Robertson Trust and the MacPhail family to go to South Africa and play for the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport. I did that earlier this year and then came back and played for the Southern Knights.
“The scholarship experience as a whole was amazing,
South Africa is an amazing country, it’s a great place, with lots to see and do. I think I got the most out of it I’d say. Rugby was the sole focus and because it was a professional programme, it would be you train Monday and Tuesday, rest Wednesday and then train Thursday and Friday and then on Saturday we would train as well.
“It was pretty full-on during pre-season, our big days would be Tuesday and Thursday, it would be a 6am start, maybe an hour of skills and then breakfast, and then a pitch session, then a unit session and then a gym session and then that would be us for the day.
“We tried to get everything done before the worst of the heat came, usually we would be finished by like 2pm and then you’d have the rest of the day to yourself.”
Leaving Selkirk during a Premiership campaign wasn’t a decision Monroe took lightly, especially given their opportunity to progress to the semi-finals, but the chance to experience a totally new style of rugby was not one he could pass up.
“I had played at Selkirk my whole life and when I left in January, it was towards the end of the season and we were still in the top four, and after I had to leave, we dropped into fifth. We still managed to win the Borders League.
“I couldn’t be a part of that, but I also couldn’t really say no to the opportunity.”
Within a fortnight of his return to Scotland, the opportunity to head back out to Africa came in the form of a Scotland U20 call up for the U20 World Trophy. A back-row injury meant Job was given the opportunity to join the group, and took full advantage in his debut against Samoa, scoring three tries.
A modest Monroe said: “I was quite lucky to be fair, I got back from South Africa for maybe a week or two weeks and (Scotland U20 Team Manager) Graeme Beveridge gave me a call and said ‘one of the boys has been injured, can you be in camp next week?’ I had work planned, but obviously said ‘yeah, of course’ so out I went.
“Then on the last Friday of camp one of the other back rows got injured and I was lucky enough to get picked to start, but you’ve got to be there to give yourself the chance.
“I was quite lucky with the tries! They were all maul tries, so I have to give credit to the forwards in front of me who got me over the line. I was just trying to get into the game and prove myself and just try as hard as I can.
“The intensity was a lot higher at that level, so it took a bit of getting used to and then obviously all the detail. There is a lot of playing details that you need to learn so I was just trying to get used to that as well once I got there which was hard.”
On his return, Monroe made the move from Selkirk to the Super Series with Southern Knights. Narrowly missing out on the semi-finals, the Borders outfit were in it until the last weekend of the regular season, and Monroe featured regularly in his debut campaign.
“It’s been really good. Southern Knights a good team and everyone makes you feel welcomed. It’s a big step up from the Premiership physicality wise.
“Knowing Scott White (Backs & Attack Coach) from Selkirk helped a bit because I know him as a coach.
“I was only expecting to be involved in the first few games maybe but I’ve been lucky enough to play most of them, so I just tried to find my feet and perform well.”
Looking ahead, Monroe hopes that consistent performances in the Super Series can lead to further involvement with Scotland U20 in the Under-20 Six Nations next year.
“It’s something I have my eye on, but it’s just trying to get there first. Hopefully I get invited to the camps and then go from there and take it each week by week.
“If I get to the camps, I’ll be doing my best to show what I can do and I’ll be putting my hand up a lot as much as I can and try my best – we’ll see, I’m keeping my fingers crossed but we just need to wait and see.”