Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Sport Rugby

Cowan: Blake proud to be a Scot

Published 16/08/2015

Hugh Blake made his Scotland debut against Ireland
Hugh Blake made his Scotland debut against Ireland

Blair Cowan insists he has no doubts about Hugh Blake's commitment to Scotland after watching his fellow kilted Kiwi give his all on his Test debut.

Blake has barely kicked a ball for either Edinburgh or new club Glasgow since the Scottish Rugby Union lured him from New Zealand last December.

But that did not stop Dark Blues head coach Vern Cotter from fast-tracking the 22-year-old flanker - who qualifies through his Glasgow-born grandparents - into his squad.

Having played just three 15-a-side games during a brief stint at Edinburgh and only a handful of sevens run-outs with Glasgow, not everyone has supported the former All Blacks Under-20 cap.

Former Scotland and British and Irish Lions prop Peter Wright criticised his call-up, dubbing it a "slap in the face" for the country's native flankers.

However, Blake has now fired himself into World Cup contention with a daring display in the 28-22 defeat to Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.

Back-row colleague Cowan faced similar opposition when he declared for the land of his mother's birth last year but has worn the thistle on his chest with pride.

And he feels Dunedin-born Blake proved representing Scotland means just as much to him with his introduction at the Aviva Stadium.

London-Irish forward Cowan told Press Association Sport: "It was a great start from Hugh. I room with him but I didn't want to put too much pressure on his shoulders so I didn't say a lot to him. I know what it feels like to win your first cap when you are viewed as an outsider by the public.

"But it meant the world to me and I know it meant the world to Hugh. The only thing I told him was, 'Go out there, don't try anything special and just do your job well. If that happens everything will naturally unfold because you are a good player', That's what happened.

"He's got that jersey now and no-one can take it away from him now.

"I have dealt with all the comments about coming from New Zealand but playing for Scotland. I have massive pride in my Scottish heritage. My mum was born and raised here and some of my Scottish relatives lived two minutes round the corner from me growing up in New Zealand, so I was always very aware of that side of my upbringing.

"But that can be tough to prove to the public. It means the world to me and it's in my blood and I'm sure it's the same with Hugh.

"The only way to make people realise what it means to you is to go out on the pitch and put it out there. The more you are around this environment the more special it is. This is really a team for the people and Hugh proved he understands that in Dublin."

Scotland now face home and away clashes with Italy before Cotter's 47-man training squad is trimmed back to 31 ahead of their final warm-up clash with France.

But Cowan believes the management will have selection headaches after a promising three-try run-out against an Irish side ranked second in the world.

Cowan, who scored Scotland's first touchdown just before half-time, said: "You couldn't really isolate one stand-out player out there on Saturday because there was so many. That's a huge positive.

"That was our first blow out against a very strong Irish side. There were a lot of nerves but we dealt with the build-up well and went out to perform. That's what I was happy about."

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph