Howarth hails his friends at 'Muir

CALVIN HOWARTH has sent a heartfelt thanks to former Boroughmuir colleagues for giving him a leg up on to the Scottish representative rugby ladder as he prepares for an A international debut against Romania in Aberdeen later today.

The 26-year-old New Zealand-born stand off is "absolutely ecstatic" to be given a start after finally establishing a Scottish qualification through satisfying a four-year residency requirement.

And, in making it plain that he intends to use the call as a springboard to even greater cap exploits, Howarth said that if it were not for the Boroughmuir club he might not have remained in Scotland for more than a few months - far less now be making plans to lay down roots here.

"Whatever I achieve as a Scotland player, part of it will be for Boroughmuir even though I am now a contracted pro with Glasgow," said Howarth.

"To get the chance to face Romania for the A team is a marvellous opportunity and one which I’m looking forward to grabbing with both hands. But the defining moment in recognising my affinity with Scotland came early - and was thanks to the ’Muir lads."

The former Kiwi provincial player, whose career with North Harbour embraced games against Counties, Bay of Plenty, Northern Maori and Samoa, added: "Almost from the moment I pitched up not knowing what to expect the atmosphere at Boroughmuir made me feel so relaxed to the extent that within three months I knew I’d be staying permanently regardless of whether I’d become involved on the representative rugby scene.

"To that end, when my playing days are over, I can maybe make use here of the PE degree I had completed prior to satisfying an urge to play overseas."

Perhaps we should not be surprised that Howarth intends to repay the hospitality afforded him.

For, it was typically of him that when Boroughmuir were relegated in his second season he vowed to maintain the connection and try to ensure they quickly bounced back despite offers to move elsewhere.

Also, although Howarth could have qualified for Scotland earlier if he hadn’t interrupted his stay to return to New Zealand to visit his sick father it is typical of his admirable sense of priority that he sums up the break, saying: "Returning to New Zealand was something I had to do and would unhesitatingly do again in the same circumstances.

"That’s because you can’t put a price on somebody’s life but it has now, anyway, worked out well with my dad recovered and the Scotland A call coming through quicker than expected as I approach the fourth anniversary of my arrival."

Even when recruited by Edinburgh as a forerunner to a transfer across country to Glasgow, he has ensured links remain strong, in emerging as one of Meggetland’s favourite rugby sons.

"I enjoyed watching Boroughmuir get their BT Scottish Cup bid up and running against Linlithgow at the weekend and it will be good also to be linking up against Romania with Mike Blair at half back."

Scrum half Blair also used a spell with ’Muir to put the finishing touches to his game in preparation for the pro ranks and Howarth is convinced it is a partnership that can flourish.

"I have played with Mike before and it is interesting that even Scotland A’s reserve scrum half, Chris Cusiter, is from ’Muir, which must say something for the club’s ability to produce players," he said.

What, though, are the prospects of getting the new Scotland season off to a winning start?

According to Howarth the Romanians may have been on the receiving end of a 40-3 defeat by Wales last Friday (six of that side are in the starting line-up against Scotland A) but they showed enough to suggest they will be stronger with an outing under their belt.

"We have watched a video of the Romanians in Wales and they showed useful touches," said Howarth.

Meanwhile, Scotland A boss Rob Flockhart has revealed that the selectors had been tipped off about Howarth’s abilities soon after he arrived.

"The word from Boroughmuir was that it was obvious they had landed an extremely promising player from the moment Calvin turned out in club colours," said Flockhart in paying tribute to a player who could yet follow in the footsteps of the original "kilted Kiwi" Sean Lineen - not that Howarth was holding out much hope at the outset.

"To be honest, when the chance came up to join Boroughmuir I was more interested in experiencing overseas playing conditions than playing representatively but now that the chance has arrived I can’t wait to do my bit for my adopted country," said Howarth.

Scotland A: Metcalfe, captain, Steel, Henderson, Utterson, Kerr, Howarth, Blair, Hilton, D Hall, Smith, Ross, A Hall, Rennick, Hogg, Mower. Subs: Di Ciacca, Brannigan, Perrett, Macfadyen, Cusiter (Boroughmuir), Hodge, Stuart.

Romania: Dumbrava, Brezoianu, Dumitru, Gontineac, captain, I Teodorescu, R Lungu, C Podea, D Dima, P Balan, M Socacia, Augustin Petrichei, C Petre, F Corodeanu, A Petrache, G Chiriac. Subs: P Toderasc, M Tincu, M Constantin, C Mersoiu, P Mitu, I Tofan, L Sarbu.