Blair Kinghorn sat down in Nice to chat through the first preseason block, the Guinness Six Nations and ahead to this year's Rugby World Cup.
It’s been good, it’s been challenging. It feels like it’s been a long four weeks, but we’ve got through a lot of work. Pre-season is always pretty tough, coming off the back of a holiday, but the boys are floating into it. I feel like we’re getting a lot out of it, working hard and seeing progress being made. I think everyone is having a good time and the spirit seems to be high.
We are doing a lot of fitness but we’re doing a lot of it in our rugby sessions as well so it’s very specific to how we want to play the game. We’re training at more of a high intensity, less rest, so we’re getting that fitness element into it, alongside doing top-ups with our S&C coaches, which we all love. I think they’re trying to make it as rugby related as possible, because you can do a lot of straight line running and it’s very dull and boring and you probably don’t practise your skills under pressure, whereas now we’re doing fitness into rugby games and it makes your decisions under pressure and under fatigue a bit better. I’m not the S&C expert but that’s what it feels like they’re doing!
Scotland has been roasting as well recently, but it’s more humid here. Today was the hottest, it was 30-odd degrees and humid, so a few of the boys are sunburnt. It’s good to be in the hotel we’ll be staying at if we are selected for the World Cup, to get the lay of the land, and the facilities at Stade Niçois are really good.
In Your Downtime
The hotel is good, a nice open plan team room, you can see everything that’s going on. Nice chilling areas, there’s a good pool. I think it’s a really nice hotel. I’ve got my own balcony in my room, so I can sit out, sun tan if I want to.
We had a day off on Sunday, and a few of us went to play golf at a course about 10 mins down the road. It was a 9-holer, we rented clubs which doesn’t make that much of a difference for me but the boys who are low-handicappers were complaining – but it was a good day out.
Growth Since Rugby World Cup 2019
I would like to say I’m more mature, I’ve got more experience, I understand what a big tournament is like and how much effort has to go into it, how much preparation has to go into it. It’s kind of similar to six nations, the biggest tournaments going on in rugby. I feel like I’ve matured a bit, I’ve got more experience and I feel like I’ll be better prepared for this one.
Looking Back On Italy
[I felt] relief at the end of the game for the result, that we won because it was pretty touch and go at the end. On a personal note, I was just happy to contribute to the game and score tries that allowed us to win the game. That feels like ages ago now!
[Before the last try] I was just thinking “Don’t get caught, don’t get caught, don’t get caught” and then my running technique was getting gradually worse and worse! I was so tired at the end of that as well, but the crowd was so loud towards the end of the game. Sometimes when you’re in the zone you don’t really notice the crowd that much but as soon as you score, you hear everyone screaming and everyone jumps on top of you. It was a good way to end the campaign I reckon!
What The Fans Mean
Fans are getting behind us a lot right now. We had a pretty successful Guinness Six Nations. In certain parts of it we played some really good rugby, we won some big games. We’ve always had the fans at our back.
When we put in good performances and show we care, playing for Scotland and representing them I think they feed off that. Loads of times they’re down a couple of hours before kick-off and cheer the bus in. When we get the bus into BT Murrayfield and see all the fans standing there a couple of hours before kick-off it’s really incredible; we know they’re right behind us. It’s a real privilege for us to try to represent them.
Guinness Six Nations 2023
There were a lot of positives and a lot we can learn, winning three games and losing to France and Ireland who are number one and number two in the world, if you’re not at a nine out of ten performance it’s really tough to beat them. So we know the areas we have to work on.
There were massive positives, a big win away at Twickenham and then winning against Wales and Italy at home. There are positives to take, and to take the next step we know we’ve got to be a bit more consistent in the big games where if you’re not on it you’re going to lose and get punished. I think that’s our area of growth.
Importance Of Mindset
Everyone is just focused on getting themselves in a really good physical shape and laying a really good foundation to go into block two and for the games when they come up.
I think nerves are always going to be there, It’s part and parcel of it. Having in the back of your mind that you know you can perform to that high level and have a good game does give you confidence going into a game, but I’ll still be nervous for sure.
The boys are confident, we’ve always been confident in our ability to perform well. Over the last year we’ve had a lot of big wins: we beat England; we pushed New Zealand close. I think performances like that give the boys a lot of confidence that we can go out and beat anyone in the world. It does help, having a little bit of wind in your sails. It’s exciting times!
Want to watch Scotland play in before the Rugby World Cup? Enjoy three sizzling summer games in Edinburgh in The Famous Grouse Nations Series against Italy, France and Georgia.
Tickets and match packages are available now, with children under 12 going free with a paying adult, starting at just £21 for Georgia.