It was the sort of bravura performance that, had it been on Broadway, would have resulted in any number of curtain calls – so no one could express surprise that Scotland’s Adam Ashe has been given a chance to repeat his show-stealing exploits in the middle of the back row against the All Blacks tomorrow.
He is the very embodiment of the youthful potential in head coach Vern Cotter’s squad – and despite it being only his second international appearance against Argentina, at just 21 years old Ashe somehow topped the tackle and the carry counts for both sides with 17 and 13 respectively.
Not bad for a kid who was more interested in golf and football until he was 15.
“I played a bit of mini-rugby and came away from it and played various sports… golf, football, athletics and track, so I’ve done all different things. It took me a while to find the sport I really liked,” he said. “I played golf off a handicap of seven at 15 and in football I played under 14s in pro-youth with Falkirk for a year or two. I started with Alva and went to Alloa and various different teams and on to Falkirk, and eventually decided it wasn’t really for me.
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“I started growing and was a lot bigger than the rest of the lads. I liked to get stuck in as well, so football maybe wasn’t really the right sport for me. I played all over the place, centre back, up front, centre mid. I liked the physicality of sports and that’s what drew me to rugby.”
Physicality is undoubtedly his thing. Unlike some taller rivals, Ashe is 6ft 4in, constructed along the lines of a Billy Vunipola rather than a Kieran Reid, which is ideal for his chosen profession of running through brick walls.
The lack of height means a lower centre of gravity and Ashe can specialise in the essential softening up work that every side undertakes. The very fact that he chose rugby at Alva Academy in Clackmannanshire shows some independent thinking, not least because big brother Daniel was on Stirling Albion’s books for a couple of years.
He likes a challenge but is Ashe perhaps just a little disappointed not to be facing Reid, arguably the best No 8 around, and the rest of the All Blacks A-team?
“The All Blacks are the All Blacks,” said the Scot, without fear of contradiction. “They are a fantastic squad, no matter what team they put out, it’s going to be strong.
“Yes, it would have been nice to have played against their so-called starting XV but it doesn’t really make a difference to us. We’re going to try to impose ourselves on them. It would have been nice but that’s their decision.”
After kicking off at Hillfoots and Alva Academy, Ashe progressed into the Stirling County ranks where he played alongside his friend, stand-off Finn Russell. Ahead of the All Blacks game, the pair are currently sharing a room and, listening to Ashe, they will always share a love of music.
“I’m a self proclaimed DJ,” he said. “It’s just a hobby. I’ve never done a club. If you could put an ad in the paper that would be good, I’m looking for a gig!
“Finn likes to dance when I play music. We share a flat together. I’ve got a mic and another mate who comes round and MCs. It’s a bit of fun, nothing serious.”
For Ashe, the serious stuff starts at 5.30 pm on Saturday.
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