BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
RORY CURRIE has given up on partying with his pals and spent the summer bulking up on the beach – but the Tynecastle teen insists he is happy to make sacrifices to become a Hearts hero.
The 19-year-old made the step up to the senior side last term, impressing during his 11 appearances and scoring his maiden goal for the Jambos against Raith Rovers in a 4-2 Scottish Cup victory in January.
He is now firmly part of the first-team picture and admits the challenge of competing with the likes of Isma Goncalves and Jamie Walker for a starting berth has seen him become a 24-hour athlete.
Currie, who arrived from Rangers last summer, is even becoming gradually accustomed to being recognised by Hearts fans, albeit he is not being mobbed in the streets of the capital – yet.
He is out to further bolster his burgeoning reputation when East Fife visit Gorgie in the Betfred Cup this afternoon.
Currie said: “I had a couple of weeks off but, after being involved with the first team last season you just want to be back playing again, and even when I was away, I was trying to keep myself in shape.
“It’s different being part of the first team, there is more of a demand to look after yourself. You are competing at a different standard.
“If you want to maintain your fitness and stay up to the same level as the experienced players you have to put so much work in. You have to make sacrifices, I don’t see my friends as much now because I’m in training and then after that’s finished you just want to rest for the next day.
“So you get into a routine of just doing that, but that’s part of football and the things you have to do. That step up has been an eye-opener and you have to put the work in to stay in the first-team.
“A few people have recognised me as well – I wouldn’t say too many – but getting noticed by people is one of the things you want to happen because it’s a sign you’re doing well. But it’s not about that, I just want to be in the team, scoring goals and doing well.”
Currie knows he faces a battle for a jersey following the high-profile captures of Kyle Lafferty and Cole Stockton, nevertheless he is relishing the challenge posed by head coach Ian Cathro’s summer spending spree.
And he cannot wait to learn at the feet of former Rangers and Norwich star Lafferty, who opened his account against Elgin in midweek.
Currie added: “The manager has brought in a lot of players over the summer so there is a lot of competition but it’s a challenge to keep up with them, and I’m ready for that.
“Kyle Lafferty is a great player, I’ve been watching him and trying to pick things up from him. He’s a good guy but he has that jokey side to him too, which is good in the dressing-room because you need people to liven it up.
“The vibes are better and the team bond is there already. Last season we were losing too many games, we didn’t do as well as we should have and that brought it down, but we have had a good pre-season and the supporters are excited for the new season just as much as we are.”
While kicking off their campaign with modest encounters against Elgin – where they won 1-0 in midweek – and East Fife may not be glamorous, Currie is loathe to underestimate the importance of the fixtures.
With their onerous Premiership schedule kicking off with four away games, the first of which being a trip to Celtic Park, the promising forward insists getting in the winning habit, even at this early stage, is invaluable.
He added: “We want to get a win against East Fife to build up momentum. It’s important to get the right result in these games, we have spoken about finishing top of the group then hopefully going all the way in the competition.”