Scotland cap realises Kiwi-born Blair Cowan's dream

By Alasdair LamontBBC Sport on tour with Scotland
Blair Cowan in action against USA
Blair Cowan makes his debut in Scotland's win over USA.

Blair Cowan says winning his first Scotland cap realised a goal he had when he moved to the UK from his New Zealand homeland five years ago.

The 28-year-old London Irish loose forward made his debut in the weekend win over United States in Houston.

"It was probably the most emotional pre-game I've ever had," he said.

"It is something I set my eyes on a long time ago when it was only a small realistic goal and, for that to come true, I am just really stoked."

Cowan was born in Upper Hutt, near Wellington, but qualifies for Scotland through his mother, Jean, who named her son after the village where she was raised - Blairmore in Argyll.

His father, Mark, is a first-generation Kiwi whose parents hail from the Cook Islands, but Cowan insists his own ambition was to represent Scotland.

After spells with Upper Hutt and Wellington, he moved to England to join Cornish Pirates in 2009 then switched to Worcester.

But it was only when he moved to London Irish in 2013 that his eligibility came to the Scottish selectors' attention and a year later before his late introduction to international rugby.

"When I originally came over here to play, it was a goal, but at the time nobody really knew about me," he told BBC Scotland.

"I put it out of my mind and then I got a phone call before the autumn tests to say I'd made the squad.

"I just pushed on playing for London Irish and managed to get called up for the summer tour.

"It is something I've been looking forward to my whole life. Until Saturday, I didn't know how possible it was, but to sing the anthem and be involved in the atmosphere and to play for a country of such pride was just unreal.

"It was a huge occasion and right now it is the pinnacle of my career."

His first cap came in fellow New Zealander Vern Cotter's first game as Scotland head coach.

"It was the first time I had met Vern and he is one of those guys you have instant respect for," added Cowan, who hopes to retain his place in the side against Canada in Toronto on Saturday.

"If you have ever met him, he just carries himself like he knows what he's doing.

"He's a man of few words, but when he says something, he means it and the boys respond really well.

"He's just got something, he's got this edge that I haven't experienced before, and he's someone I am keen to keep working with."