Logan to reap rich harvest

Bill Leith talks to the Scotland rugby union winger who will soon be facing some tough decisions about his future
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The Independent Online
Kenny Logan, who is expected to win a 29th Scotland cap at Murrayfield this weekend, will stand apart from the rest of his colleagues against Ireland.

Not in the way that left the former Instonians and Ulster winger Keith Crossan entitled to feel awkward during the Irish anthem before the Scotland visit to Dublin in 1982 when the rest of the Irish team hailed from south of the border. Or because Logan is unique in having an ex-Lions captain Gavin Hastings, now a sports marketing agent, look after his interests.

Rather it is because only Logan, of the likely Scottish starting line- up due to be named today, has yet to sign a contract with the Scottish Rugby Union. Around pounds 50,000 a year is his for the taking were he to remain in Scotland, but he insists: "The reason I haven't signed is because my brother and I split up our farm and it is going to take three to four months to sort things out. There would be days when I couldn't train because of work on the farm. I'm not going to do anything until I get that sorted out."

The situation means that Logan is effectively responsible for training on his own except during weeks culminating in internationals. During this period, a temporary agreement applies as with Duncan Hodge, the Watsonian stand-off who is expected to sit on the Scotland bench for the first time on Saturday.

Hodge recently turned down the chance to move to Northern Transvaal, whom he impressed during last year's Student World Cup, a future option that would be denied him were he to sign with the SRU. While the home- based players report to Murrayfield daily and the Exiles head up to Murrayfield every other Wednesday to train, the 24 year-old Logan relies on solo sessions at a Stirling hotel gymnasium to keep in shape, as well as club work-outs.

It is hardly an ideal arrangement, although Logan has still managed to become one of only nine Scottish players meriting inclusion in a provisional Lions squad of 62. Nor was there anything in his performance against England last time out to suggest the solo regimes were having a detrimental effect on his form.

Going into that match, however, the SRU's contract negotiator, Kenny Crichton, had claimed "strength of personality" would enable Logan to do himself justice. In other words, Logan possesses an inner confidence which is rarely, if ever, overbearing.

Without doubt, Logan knows his own mind and there is no question his ambition is suffering down on the farm. Saracens have been linked with the former trialist goalkeeper with Heart of Midlothian, who says of a possible move to England: "If you are ambitious, England is the place to go. Some guys could be happy staying up in Scotland, but England is a big challenge.

"Scotland is a great place to live and down there would be different, but the rugby would be different too. I've had offers. I'm very ambitious. I would hate to look back on my career and say I didn't try it - even if I didn't enjoy it."

Should Logan fail to make the final Lions squad, another option could beckon - American football. Mike Keller, general manager of the Scottish Claymores, has had Logan in his sights for some time and said recently: "Kenny could be a running back, which is one of the glamour positions.

"OJ Simpson was a great running back and sometimes with all his recent problems you hate to even mention his name, but OJ became a glamour Hollywood idol - and it all stemmed from being a great running back.

"I understand that because of Kenny's desire to be at home and run his farm, he has had some negotiation difficulties. This may open the door for the Claymores. We would have to see how Kenny catches an American football. But with his speed, toughness and ability to change direction I see possibilities." The Lions are due to name their squad a fortnight before the Claymores season begins in April, and Keller added: "We would be flexible."

Logan has been quick to shoot down speculation about a change of sport, but less forthcoming about Saracens' approaches conducted initially between the club's coach, Rob Cunningham, and Gavin Hastings. Cunningham said: "Hopefully a deal can be done and sooner rather than later." By resisting any temptation to sign an SRU contract, Logan may indeed be about to reap a rich harvest.

n Damian Cronin, the Wasps lock, has been brought into the Scotland squad in place of the injured Shane Munro for the Five Nations match against Ireland on Saturday. Munro, one of three locks in the squad, has a knee problem. His withdrawal settles the selection issue for the Scotland second row, in which Doddie Weir and Andy Reed will be the lock combination.