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Cowan ready for Murrayfield bow

Blair Cowan may have been born in New Zealand but he insists he will be the proudest Scot on show if he is given his BT Murrayfield debut on Saturday.

The son of a Scottish mother and Cook Islander father, the 28-year-old is in line to make his bow at the home of the Dark Blues when they host Argentina this weekend.

The London Irish back-rower already has three caps for Vern Cotter's men after being called-up for the summer tour of the Americas.

Fiercely proud of his Scottish roots, he was already looking forward to the chance of running out at the famous Edinburgh arena for the first time.

But the fact that his mum Joan - born in the small village of Blairmore near Dunoon before emigrating to New Zealand with her parents - has flown half-way round the world to see the first Autumn Test has pushed his patriotic sensitivities into over-drive.

He said: "My family are very Scottish orientated. Since coming up here and seeing the values in people, I can see where my family got it from.

"My grandad, my uncle, my mum - they are all based in New Zealand but are all very Scottish. They were born here and raised here.

"Don't get me wrong, I'm very proud of my father's side and where I grew up. But a lot of the stuff that has been driven into me comes from my Scottish side.

"My Scottish family are all very proud people, very passionate. I think that shows in the way I play. I wear my heart on my sleeve.

"When I call my grandad to give him some good news, he still gets a crack in his voice. That almost brings me to tears. So now it is really nice to represent Scotland on behalf of my family as well.

"My family has been the backbone to my career so I owe them a lot when I go out to play."

Cowan first moved to the UK in 2009 when he signed for Cornish Pirates. As spell at Worcester Warriors then led to his move to the Irish Exiles.

He has even toured Scotland when his sister married her partner in Edinburgh.

But the atmosphere of a packed-out Murrayfield is something he has still to savour.

"I got a taste of playing for Scotland during the summer but now I've got my eyes set on playing at Murrayfield," said the Wellington-born flanker.

"That would be a huge honour and probably the highlight of my career if I get the chance.

"I'm dying to get out there. My mum has just come over to visit myself and my brother. It would be the first time in six years that I have played in front of her.

"To play in front of the Scottish crowd would be huge but to play in front of my family makes it even more special."

Cowan's inclusion in Cotter's latest squad is also notable because is seems to have spelt the end of former skipper Kelly Brown's international career.

But with a World Cup just 10 months away, the new man in the squad is refusing to let the fall-out of that episode ruin his big chance.

He said: "Kelly has obviously been a huge part of Scottish rugby and I have the utmost respect for him.

"But Vern knows what he wants. That's the nature of professional sport and I'm just lucky enough to be what Vern is after.

"Kelly's absence is the elephant in the room but I have put it behind me and I'm just concentrating on my job.

"I want to take the next step with Scotland. I was reasonably happy with the end-of-year tour but there was still things I could improve on. Now is a chance to show exactly what I can do if I get the opportunity to play."

Meanwhile, Ryan Grant has been invited to train with the squad after Edinburgh prop Allan Dell was ruled out with a leg injury.

Grant, who toured Australia with the 2013 British & Irish Lions, is only just back from shoulder surgery himself but could end up replacing Dell after he was injured in the Gunners' 33-8 defeat to Leinster in Dublin on Friday.


From Belfast Telegraph