Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Hamilton Set to Hit the Big Time

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Hamilton Set to Hit the Big Time

Article excerpt

Byline: By Duncan Madsen

Newcastle's latest international returned to Kingston Park this week determined to play a leading part in helping the Falcons fly up the Premiership table.

It is a far cry from last summer when 6ft 8in lock Craig Hamilton couldn't see how he could get much game time with three world-class players in Mark Andrews, Stuart Grimes and Garath Archer blocking his way to a second row place.

However, injuries to Andrews and Archer plus Grimes' involvement with Scotland for the autumn internationals and Six Nations Championship meant that the 24-year-old Hamilton had game time in virtually every match, either as a starter or coming on from the bench.

It also brought him back to the notice of the Scottish selectors following two blank years since he played for the Scotland Under-21s and Students side.

And a call-up for the squad from which the touring party to Australia would be selected was the result, only no-one bothered to make certain that Hamilton knew about it.

"I had moved house and the letter from the SRU was sent to my old address and didn't get to me," explained Hamilton.

"It was only when Grimesy (Falcons team-mate Stuart Grimes) rang me up on the Monday and asked `why aren't you up here in Stirling' that I learned about it and I was told to drive up for the Tuesday session."

It only gave the hugely personable Scot from Stranraer one day to stake his claim for the tour but he impressed Scotland coaches Matt Williams and Todd Blackadder sufficiently to be named in the 40-strong touring party.

Initially a member of the midweek side, Hamilton played in the matches against Queensland Reds, New South Wales Country XV and the NSW Waratahs after which the squad was cut to 28 for the two Tests against the Wallabies.

"To be honest I didn't think I would make the cut for the final 28 and was delighted when Matt Williams told me I had and wouldn't be going home early," explained Hamilton.

"I wasn't involved in the first Test but afterwards Matt came over to me at the reception and told me to take it easy as Scott Murray had an injury and Grimesy was going to be cited for stamping. …

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