AT just 20 years of age, Jamie Dobie might be a mere sapling among the tall trees of professional rugby, but the scrum-half started his first full-time contract with Glasgow Warriors straight out of school in the summer of 2019 so feels he has now paid his dues.
So, while he knows that competition for the No 9 jersey at both club and international level is going to be fierce during the next few months, he is hell-bent on ramping up the pressure on Ali Price, George Horne and anyone else who gets in his way.
He has now played 25 matches for Warriors (six starts and 19 off the bench) and made his Scotland debut against Tonga at the end of October, so has a fair idea of what is expected of him. As the 2022 Six Nations looms over the horizon, he is focussed on using Glasgow’s United Rugby Championship clash against Ospreys on Saturday evening as a launch-pad to a big couple of months.
“It’s not easy, of course, but getting that first cap was obviously a high point for me, and I’m absolutely keen to add to that,” he says. “We’ve got strong competition for the scrum-half slot here at Glasgow, including three of us involved in the most recent Scotland camp, so it is good to have that continuity, but it shows that the competition is fierce.
“It’s coming up to a year now since I had my first taste in that [international] environment during the last Six Nations, when I was fortunate to be involved as a travelling reserve for some of the big away games,” he continues. “I learned a lot from that in terms of just being thrown in at the deep end – spending a lot of time in camp with limited opportunities to go outside the bubble – so to get that exposure at that stage was awesome, even though I wasn’t playing.
“Then the summer wasn’t quite what we all wanted, but to get that opportunity again in the Autumn, which led to a first cap, was brilliant.
“I’m hoping to be involved again in this Six Nations, and pushing for selection, because you want to be playing in these big games.
“If I’m not, it is still an opportunity to learn from the other scrum-halves and the general environment, so either way it will be good to spend a couple of months there if I can.”
A big challenge for all scrum-halves during the transition from youth to senior rugby is learning to control the tempo of a game, and Dobie admits that he could hardly have had a better role model as he worked his way through that process than Price, who has transformed himself from impetuous livewire to one of the most respected game managers in the UK since the retiral of Greig Laidlaw after the 2019 World Cup.
“It [controlling tempo] is definitely coming more naturally now,” says Dobie. “Coming from school, it’s not so much of a focus area, but stepping up into the adult and pro game it’s very important. It can be the difference in the big games, especially in my position.
“It’s about putting that into training as much as I can, and not just in games. I’m trying to focus on that and work on it every single day, so then it’s natural when it comes to the game, rather than having to force it.
“There’s no denying that Ali has gone from strength to strength recently,” he adds. “From the Lions tour and starting two of the three Tests, his confidence is sky high,” says the younger man. “You can see it on the field: he’s leading a lot more and he’s putting in the performances consistently now, which is great for the club and great for him.
“It’s great for all of the scrum-halves that we have the opportunity to learn from one of the best in the UK and across the world. Having that exposure day-in-day-out here at Glasgow and then with Scotland as well, it’s great for me to be able to pick up more and more from him.
“The opportunities I’m getting at Glasgow and in the Scotland set-up, the exposure I’m getting to top players, I’m learning heaps.
“So, when I do get my chances on the pitch, and hopefully they’re coming more and more, I’m able to put the learning from training into those games.”