Glasgow centre Nick Grigg freely admits that he came to Scotland for a bit of an adventure with no thought that he would soon be playing for the land of his Ayrshire grandfather.
The hard-running midfielder was recruited into the Glasgow academy after the then Warriors coach, now national boss, Gregor Townsend saw YouTube footage of him playing club rugby in Wellington and for the Hurricanes B team.
From playing club rugby for Stirling County a couple of seasons ago the 25-year-old has flourished in his adopted homeland, won a pro deal with the Warriors, been honoured by the supporters with their Player of the Season award last term and earned a first Scotland cap against Fiji during the summer tour. The good news keeps rolling in for the compact but dynamic centre as he was named in Townsend’s autumn Test series squad on Tuesday and yesterday announced that he has signed a new two-year deal that will keep him at Glasgow until 2020.
“Yeah, it was a good decision. I’m pretty comfortable; here in Glasgow,” said Grigg after training at Scotstoun yesterday. “I enjoy the atmosphere of the crowd and the city and the players. It has been offered quite early but I’m keen to stay. There was a couple of things floating around, but it was a bit up in the air and I wasn’t too sure what was going on. I’m happy here and happy to sign – so it is good news.”
Grigg is now looking forward to going into international camp next week and is thrilled by the prospect of featuring in a home Test at BT Murrayfield, possibly against the land of his birth when the world champions come calling on 18 November. “Fingers crossed. I’m stoked to make the squad,” he said. “I got the email the other day so it was pretty awesome telling my parents that I was going to be involved over those three matches – and obviously looking at that All Blacks Test. It would be amazing to give my all against them.
“I’ve been to a few games at Murrayfield so I know that the atmosphere is amazing. Just hearing the national anthem from the crowd’s perspective is awesome, so I’d really love to get in amongst it.”
It has been a whirlwind rise for the player, which he could not have foreseen when he packed his bags to leave the small town of Johnsonville near Wellington two years ago for a Warriors trial.
“No I was just kinda thinking ‘cool, a free trip to Scotland, see how it goes’,” he said. “But a couple of years later my goals and aspirations have hit the roof. As long as I keep working hard I’m sure I can achieve them.”
Thoughts may be increasingly turning towards those games against Samoa, New Zealand and Australia next month but Glasgow’s focus is on resuming their unbeaten Guinness Pro14 campaign tomorrow night against the winless Southern Kings from South Africa, who have endured a rather torrid introduction to the competition.
The international windows have been periods to make or break Glasgow’s seasons in recent years, with last term’s inability to cope with so many losses to the national squad the main reason they ended up outside the play-offs for the first time in six years.
Moves have been made to add more depth to the squad but, due to circumstances, Townsend has had to mine deep into his former club with 18 in his 36-man squad. That includes some players who would be expected to have stepped up during the Test window, such as the uncapped trio of lock Scott Cummings, hooker George Turner and prop Jamie Bhatti.
A few may be released back to Glasgow over the coming weeks but forwards coach Jonathan Humphreys refuses to take a negative view of the situation.
“It’s great for someone like Jamie,” said Humphreys. “Going back a couple of years he was working in a slaughterhouse so you probably don’t anticipate his rise as quickly as it’s come but that’s the beauty of the game and why we have to develop academy players as well as we do.
“We’re more excited about him coming back into this environment as an international hopefully having really enjoyed it.”
Pressure on front row resources will be relieved by the news that former Lions loosehead Ryan Grant, who recently re-joined Glasgow on ashort-term deal, is close to returning in a Warriors jersey.
“It’s been a real bonus getting him back,” said Humphreys. “He’ll be involved with us in the next couple of weeks.”