Blake buoyed by Scotland call
New Scotland call-up Hugh Blake has pleaded for the chance to show he is worthy of a Dark Blue jersey.
The Edinburgh back-rower only stepped off a plane from his native New Zealand last month and has yet to even play for the capital club yet.
Most Scotland fans had no idea who this latest "Kilted Kiwi" was when Vern Cotter handed him a place in his squad for the up-coming RBS 6 Nations.
His inclusion was at the expense of former skipper Kelly Brown and on-form Scarlets flanker John Barclay - but Cotter insists Blake has a set of skills that no-other born-and-bred Scot possesses.
Now the 22-year-old wants the opportunity to prove his fellow New Zealander right.
He told Radio Clyde: "Yeah my call up has come as a surprise. I've come over at such a young age with ambitions to eventually play for Scotland.
"It's all happened earlier than expected but I'm honoured and psyched to be a part of it.
"There are some quality players who have been left out of the side who are Scotland legends. Yeah there's a bit of controversy there and I've been in the headlines. But I can't do anything about that.
"My message to people would be to ask them to be open minded. I'm new. I didn't select the team. I'm just going to be trying my best over the next few days to try to eventually play for Scotland.
"Vern Cotter has done his research and I'm just going to do my best for the fans and for Scotland rugby. I just want people to give me a chance."
Blake is eligible for the Scots courtesy of his Glasgow-born grandparents, who emigrated to New Zealand's North Island in the 1960s.
But he has already starred for the All Blacks at the Under-20s World Cup in South Africa.
However, he insists turning out with the Silver Fern on his chest was only ever a temporary measure before swapping it for a Thistle.
"There's always been Scotland rugby on in our house," he explained. "My uncle would get up during the summer to watch the Six Nations.
"As I grew up playing rugby in New Zealand I always knew I had the option of playing for Scotland. I just decided to give it a good crack, hence why I have come over here at such a young age.
"My family is very proud and stoked that I made it into the squad.
"The All Blacks was there for me growing up but I knew I had this option of playing for Scotland. I played for the New Zealand Colts at the World Cup but I knew that would be a good chance for me to prove myself to the guys from Scotland and that's where I got picked up.
"As soon as that happened I was really keen to get over here"
And he denied he had taken an "easier option" by turning his back on the nation of his birth.
Blake said: "There are no easy caps to win in international rugby. The quality is no different.
"I believe Vern has done a lot of research and watched a lot of video footage of me from back in New Zealand.
"I've had a few talks with him and he's described the way Scotland are trying to play and it suits my game. I just hope I can prove that to him over the next few days and potentially get selected to play.
"I think with the way Scotland are trying to play, a bit more up-tempo, a bit more expansive, it suits the way I play. I think I'm ready to play at international level.
"I hope I'm the type of player the fans will want to see. I'm not sure at the moment. I'm new to the Scotland set up but I hope I can prove myself, not only to the coaches, but the fans as well.
Meanwhile, Scotland have confirmed David Denton and Sean Maitland will miss the start of the Six Nations.
Glasgow wing Maitland sustained a shoulder injury during his side's European Champions Cup clash with Bath on Sunday, while Edinburgh number eight Denton damaged a calf playing for the Gunners against Bordeaux in the European Challenge Cup.
Both players have now been ruled out of the opening clash with France in Paris on February 7 but Cotter hopes they will be fit enough to take part later in the championship.