European champion Jim Hamilton sees Scotland and Saracens similarities

Jim Hamilton plays his final European match
Jim Hamilton plays his final European match, the European Champions Cup final against Clermont Auvergne

Lock Jim Hamilton can see similarities between European Champions Saracens in recent years and the Scotland team to have emerged under Vern Cotter.

The 34-year-old will retire from rugby at the end of the season having helped Sarries retain Europe's top prize.

"There have been huge transformations," said Hamilton, who played in two World Cups and won 63 Scotland caps.

"You can actually see a lot of what Saracens had six or seven years ago in the Scotland team now."

Expanding on the comparison, he told BBC Scotland: "The best players in the team have come through the system.

"You have a class number 10 in Finn Russell, a world-class 15 in Stuart Hogg.

"What we were lacking was a little bit of direction and strength in depth but everyone can see that Scotland are on the cusp of something. There have definitely been improvements.

"A lot of people were sceptical of Vern leaving and Gregor (Townsend) coming in but the backbone of that team is from Glasgow and Gregor has brought those guys through.

"He's going to be a fantastic coach and he's a great man as well, which is just as important."

Hamilton retired from the international scene in September 2015 after missing out on playing in a third World Cup, having experienced the tournament in France in 2007 and New Zealand four years later.

But he says "age has taken its toll" and, having won two European Champions Cup medals, he can finish his professional career "on a high".

"I'm not going to miss playing," he said. "It can be painful on the old joints and stuff, but I'll miss the camaraderie, the laughs and playing at big stadiums.

Jim Hamilton
Jim Hamilton used Twitter to announce his retirement from club rugby

"Playing at Murrayfield at the weekend was absolutely amazing.

"Playing for Scotland was the best thing that ever happened to me in terms of my career, and my life, alongside my children.

"It gave me the platform to play rugby against the best teams in the world and travel the world.

"I also think that playing rugby has given me a foundation to be a better person. The life experiences you get, when losing, with injury, rugby is an incredible sport and Scotland is an amazing country - it has been an incredibly important part of my life."

Hamilton plans to take six months to a year away from the sport and to enjoy time with his wife, who is expecting twins, and their young family.

A future in coaching seems likely.

He said: "I'd love to get back into the game, it has given me so much and I'd love to give something back.

"Watch this space, I suppose."

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