26 January 2022

Blair Kinghorn’s transition to stand-off at Edinburgh impresses Chris Paterson

26 January 2022

Chris Paterson knows from experience how difficult it can be to stay sharp in multiple positions, but he has been impressed by Blair Kinghorn’s transition to stand-off with Edinburgh this season.

Paterson is the all-time record points scorer for Edinburgh and Scotland and played at stand-off, full-back and on the wing during his celebrated career.

Kinghorn won 25 Scotland caps playing at wing or full-back prior to this season but has been primarily utilised at 10 by new Edinburgh head coach Mike Blair, who has guided the club to the top of the United Rugby Championship.

The 25-year-old started a Test in his new position for the first time against Tonga in the autumn and has been named in Scotland’s Guinness Six Nations squad at the expense of Gloucester stand-off Adam Hastings, with Finn Russell the only other recognised number 10 selected.

However, Paterson says the role is not completely alien to Kinghorn.

“I’ve worked with Blair for a long time and when I started working with him he was a 10,” Paterson told the PA news agency.

“Through his age-grade stuff he was a stand-off or first receiver and he’s always kept bits of that up in training. So it’s probably a bigger surprise and there were more eyebrows raised outside the camp than within Scottish rugby.

Blair Kinghorn has a total of 27 Scotland caps to his name (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Archive)

“He’s been so impressive in terms of how naturally he plays at 10 and I think the way Mike wants to play with his attacking mindset, Blair has picked that up and run with it.

“He’s a really laidback character, really quite exciting in terms of how he wants to play, so he really fits that bill.

“Blair is instinctively made for that style of rugby and has probably more experience than most people would really imagine.”

Asked how difficult it is for a versatile player to maintain a high standard across their positions, Paterson admitted: “It’s hard, it’s really hard.

“It wasn’t until the end of my career, or even when I stopped, that I realised you’re trying to improve in two or three positions at the same time, which is really difficult because the person you’re competing against in each position is often only trying to improve in that position.

“So it’s quite difficult if you’re trying to improve as a full-back, as a 10 and as a wing all at the same time because the guy you’re competing with is maybe an out-and-out 15 or an out-and-out 10.

“So it is difficult, but I also think the abilities complement each other. The ability to play 10 can make you a better 15, with the understanding, the awareness and the game sense.”

Paterson believes Edinburgh’s style of play will have helped Kinghorn settle into his new role.

Chris Paterson is Scotland’s record points scorer (Lynne Cameron/PA) (PA Archive)

“The way Edinburgh are playing, they’re very much developing rugby players to make decisions in the moment at the right time,” he explained.

“They’re making decisions on the field rather than playing to a prescribed structure, so I think that actually negates the fact that somebody like Blair is quite often playing two or three different positions.

“You’re being selected as a rugby player rather than as a full-back, a winger or a stand-off.”

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