McGeechan eyes Australian flanker

THE national coach, Ian McGeechan, will this weekend run the rule over an uncapped Australian forward who is qualified to play for Scotland.

Newcastle Falcons’ flanker Andrew Mower has told The Scotsman that he would love the opportunity to represent Scotland and McGeechan has confirmed that he will take a look at the 25-year-old in Saturday’s home match with Wasps.

The Australian-born openside has proved to be an impressive summer catch by Rob Andrew, starting every game and winning two man-of-the-match awards. Mower has already been watched both by Welsh coach Graham Henry and Scottish selector Derrick Grant, but the Sydney-born player revealed he is qualified to play for four countries!

"I’m actually qualified for Scotland, Wales, England and Australia," said Mower. "I was born in Australia, my parents are English, and I have Scottish and Welsh grandparents.

"Everyone has the goal of playing international rugby, and I guess I’m lucky to have a choice, but one of the reasons I came to Newcastle was because of the number of Scots here and how close it is to Scotland."

Mower, who played for club side Gordon in the Melrose Sevens three years ago, left Australia and joined London Irish in July 1999 after being offered only a part-time contract with Super 12 side New South Wales Waratahs. He was in discussions with Edinburgh Reivers this summer, but the Scots did not follow up their interest, and so he was delighted to be pursued by Rob Andrew.

Newcastle’s Scottish captain Doddie Weir feels the flanker - a former Australian Barbarians sevens and 10s player - would be a valuable addition to the international camp.

Weir said: "He is a player with great potential. He has a very high work-rate, and enjoys the dirty jobs, getting down and winning the ball on the ground, and stealing it. He’d be an asset to any international squad."

McGeechan - who hopes to announce later today a reduced national squad for Monday’s training session - revealed that Mower was in his thoughts.

He said: "We have made contact with Andrew and will be monitoring his progress very carefully with a view to taking this to the next stage."

Should he come into McGeechan’s squad, Mower would swell an already sizeable Scottish camp at Kingston Park. The most recent addition, former Merchiston Castle schoolboy Philip Godman, made an impressive debut, scoring a try in the under-21s’ 14-3 defeat of Ulster U21s at the weekend. Godman is likely to feature in the Falcons’ new U20s side against the Scottish Borders U20s at Kingston Park on Monday night (kick-off 7.30pm).

In domestic action, Scotland internationals Glenn Metcalfe, Shaun Longstaff and Stewart Campbell have all been declared fit for Glasgow Caledonians Reds’ league match with Ebbw Vale at Hughenden on Friday night.

Metcalfe has not played since suffering an ankle injury on Scotland’s summer tour of New Zealand, Longstaff has been out since sustaining rib damage against Northampton pre-season and Campbell returns after a week’s lay-off with an Achilles tendon injury. The Reds team are expected to be named tomorrow.

Over at the Reivers, there are high hopes that Don Mackinnon could make his first appearance of the season, away to Swansea on Saturday. He is now taking full contact in training after recovering from injury, and along with Craig Joiner, could be fit for selection this weekend. David Officer will have a fitness test today, but Cammy Murray and Kenny Milligan are injured.