A young Scottish player has been praised by coaches and players alike in New Zealand for the tremendous impact he made while on a rugby scholarship there.
Scotland 7s internationalist Roddy Grant played seven full games for the Auckland University side, making a full recovery from the knee problems that had bedevilled him in the last domestic season.
Grant, 21, an openside flanker and part of Scottish Rugby's National Academy, spent the summer in New Zealand courtesy of the John Macphail Scholarship.
During that time he won two player of the day awards; played alongside two current All Blacks, prop John Afoa and flanker Daniel Braid; and was selected for the Auckland Development team.
Braid noted: "The times I played with him it was a constant race between us for the ball and he kept his intensity right throughout the game. He would not have been out of place playing professionally here in New Zealand. I wish him all the best for his future in Scottish Rugby."
Auckland University head coach Murray Helleur said: _x001C_Roddy had an immediate impact with his very high work rate and punishing tackles. His knowledge of the game and technical input and enthusiasm made him an important part of our team. Roddy's professionalism and focus was outstanding, a true professional in every sense._x001D_
Assistant coach, former All Black Jason Hewitt, added: _x001C_He brought a steely determination to our pack. He is a gifted, powerful and intelligent player who reads rugby well and is able to control his area of the game with aplomb._x001D_
Grant clearly enjoyed the scholarship. _x001C_The whole way of life was an eye-opener. People were so rugby knowledgeable and the standard at club level was really good. All Blacks were playing not just for my club, Varsity, but on one weekend there were 12 All Blacks involved in the Auckland club competition and that lifted the level,_x001D_ he explained.
I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and getting the games back to back was invaluable after missing a large part of last season due to reconstructive surgery on my knee. I'm indebted to the Macphail family and The Robertson Trust for giving me this chance._x001D_
The Macphail scholarship was established in the memory of John Macphail who won two caps for Scotland as a hooker against England in 1949 and South Africa in 1951. In his business career Mr Macphail was chief executive then chairman of The Edrington Group, a private company that is controlled by The Robertson Trust.
Mr Macphail died in the summer of 2004 and his family and the trustees were keen to establish the scholarship in his memory.
Roddy Grant was the fourth young Scottish player to be offered the scholarship. His predecessors were John Barclay, Graham Hogg and Kevin Bryce.
Grant hopes to follow in the footsteps of his fellow openside, Barclay, who won his first cap for Scotland, against New Zealand, last year, and was immense in Scotland's most recent international, their victory against Argentina in Buenos Aires in June.
A Macphail family spokesman said: _x001C_The Macphail family are delighted to hear of the successful outcome of Roddy Grant's training in New Zealand. The family are grateful for the continued support of the Robertson Trust in under-writing the John Macphail scholarship and allowing young rugby-playing Scots from all backgrounds to benefit from overseas coaching.
We look forward to meeting the next recipient and hopefully seeing Roddy play at national level soon._x001D_
Graham Shiel, National Academy coach, said: _x001C_We're delighted that Roddy has come back from New Zealand so reinvigorated after his injury problems last season.
As part of the National Academy he is training with the Glasgow Warriors team each Monday and Tuesday and we are obviously keeping a close eye on his progress._x001D_
Open-side flanker. Born: 31.1.87 in Jwaneng, Botswana. Height: 6ft 2in (1.88m). Weight: 15st 6lbs (98kg).
Roderick Robert Grant started as open-side flanker in all five of Scotland's matches in the IRB Under 19 World Championship in Dubai in April 2006. Later that year he made his international sevens debut for Scotland in the Dubai tournament which opened the IRB's 2006-2007 series, and he continued in the squad for the subsequent tournament in George (South Africa) as well as the later Hong Kong, Adelaide (Australia), London, and Edinburgh events. After knee surgery in 2007 he returned to the sevens squad for the 2008 tournaments in Hong Kong and Adelaide (Australia). In February 2007 he was in Scotland's team for the under-20 international against England at Bath. He returned to the Scotland sevens squad in March 2008 for the IRB tournaments in Hong Kong and Adelaide (Australia). Rugby runs in Roddy's family: his grandfather (Bob) and great-uncle (George) were international referees, the latter was also Scotland full back in 1950 and 1951 and manager of the 1977 Lions in New Zealand, and Roddy's father played for British Universities. Roddy played for Natal Schools in 2004 and 2005 and captained Hilton College's first XV in 2005 as well as being in Natal Sharks' high-performance squad. He joined Border Reivers in summer 2006 as an apprentice, and the following January he made his debut for the professional team as a substitute in the Magners League match against Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade. He was awarded the 2008 John Macphail Scholarship, allowing him to have a summer playing for Auckland University club in New Zealand. Roddy, a member of Scottish Rugby's National Academy, represented South Africa at water polo at under-15 and under-16 levels.
International record: Scotland sevens (8 caps), and Scotland u19, u20.