The 21-year-old – who is originally from Dumfries and learned the game at Stewartry RFC, before moving on to Merchiston Castle School then taking his first steps into senior rugby back west with Ayr in the Tennent’s Premiership – had a terrific breakthrough season last year.
He was thrown in at the deep end during the November Test window whilst still an SRU academy player, and took it all in his stride. Despite battling for game time against the glittering array of midfielders in the Warriors squad – such as Pete Horne, Sam Johnson, Huw Jones, Nick Grigg and latterly Kyle Steyn – he managed 12 appearances in all competitions during the course of the campaign, including the full 80 minutes during the team’s crucial final Champions Cup pool match against Saracens.
McDowall’s form was recognised with a call-up to the senior Scotland training squad during the Six Nations, he shared the McCrea Financial Services Warrior of the Month award with Steyn in March, and was named the Land Rover Young Player of the Season at Glasgow’s end-of-year awards dinner in May.
Despite having 12 months still to run on his current deal, McDowall said he had no hesitation in signing on the dotted line when a further two years was put in front of him.
“As soon as the offer came, I just snatched upon it,” he said. “I’m really enjoying my time here, so any opportunity to extend my stay was an easy one. I managed to get a bit of game time last year and, with the World Cup coming up, it was always an ambition to get a bit more game time this year,” he continued.
“When those boys come back from the World Cup, some of them may get rested and some of them may play a bit then go away for the Six Nations again, so I just really need to put my head down and make the most of every opportunity I get.
“At this point in my career, the fact I can stay at a club where I can learn from other international players around me was a real big selling point for me.
“There’s also a lot of young centres here, even with international boys away, so nothing is given at this club. But we know the coaches will pick on form and not just the name, so there is loads of incentive to knuckle down and work hard.”