Heriot’s rugby club’s newest internationalist will take the field tomorrow for a first competitive Goldenacre appearance since earning his Test spurs.
CJ Osazuwa played the full 80 minutes of his native Nigeria’s matches against Mauritius and Ivory Coast at a World Cup qualifying tournament in Botswana this summer.
And he hopes his experiences, along with inclusion in Nigeria’s squad for a sevens tournament in Hertfordshire last Sunday won by the full England line-up, will contribute to Heriot’s getting off the mark in the Premiership at home to Stirling County.
Said Osazuwa: “Heriot’s didn’t do ourselves justice in losing out at Gala last week after which I had to dash off for the sevens tournament.
“Our discipline let us down at the breakdown but we have to remember that Gala finished runners-up in the league last season and also won the Scottish Cup; to face them on their home ground was quite intimidating but at half-time we were only three points adrift.”
On his international call, Osazuwa said: “It was a bit of a shock at how high the standard was – nothing at all like a backwater tournament some had predicted. Mauritius had players attached to the Western Force and Brumbies academies in Australia, and Ivory Coast drew on players from the French Leagues in addition to a prop who faced Scotland in the 1995 World Cup.
“I was picked at No. 8 and look forward to representing Nigeria again at a sevens tournament in Morocco next month. But first up come Stirling and hopefully some inside track from our players who have been at both clubs might come in useful.”
While Heriot’s are forced to omit vice captain Jamie Parker – Jack Turley deputises at flanker – Stirling are missing the influential Ben Addison and Tim Clarke.
However, the visitors are buoyed by the inclusion of Edinburgh second-row forward Robert McAlpine and sevens internationalist Byron McGuigan on the wing.
Heriot’s coach Phil Smith has made it clear an improvement is needed describing the collapse at Gala from 11-14 at half-time to 18-35 as “horrendous”.
It is Edinburgh Accies’ turn to encounter Gala whose points differential has shot them to the top of the table.
Back from the Edinburgh squad is prop Lewis Niven who replaces Alex Allan because the under-20 cap has a university commitment.
The only other change from the team that drew 10-10 at Currie sees scrum-half Mike Campbell replace Johnny Adams on the bench.
Accies coach Simon Cross said: “We let an excellent opportunity to beat Currie slip.
“A lack of accuracy in attack stopped us playing with any sort of tempo and that played into Currie’s hands.
“We have worked hard this week on the breakdown and know Gala will be very competitive in this area.
“Having said that, I was very pleased with the commitment and organisation shown in defence.”
Gala, meanwhile, expect to be unchanged.
Currie’s quest for a first win takes them to Melrose where Andy Binikos returns at stand-off with John Cox, Mike Entwhistle and Andy Adam on the bench.
With confirmation awaited from Edinburgh over the availability of Dougie Fife, the full back is bracketed with Aussie Adam Hinds.
“Melrose proved their quality with a great opening win against Stirling and anyone who beats them, especially at the Greenyards, will have earned that victory,” said Currie coach Ally Donaldson.
Lining up for Melrose against his old club will be Edinburgh hooker, Alun Walker.
Melrose coach Craig Chalmers is wary of what is in store: “Currie have some tough experienced forwards in their pack with a young exciting backline which includes the talented James Johnstone and Dougie Fyfe. Currie are a team who like to play positive rugby.”
Boroughmuir head for Aberdeen hoping to draw inspiration from their second team who launched a reserve league campaign with a win over the Dons last weekend.
However, their task is bound to be made harder by the inclusion of Glasgow pro Scott Wight at stand-off for Aberdeen.
In the National League it is debut day for Watsonians back rower Joe Jones, a Scotland under-18 cap last season, in the home clash with Jed-Forest.
Other changes from the team beaten at Hawks see Scotland Sevens cap Jack Ferguson come in on the wing for Ali Rowe with Chris Martin getting the nod over Brian Walls at scrum-half.
In the pack, Niall Dennis moves forward to second row while on the bench first team captain Mark Rennie continues his return from injury.
Should he get on then back-row Tommy Palacios, who won the Brewin Dolphin Schools Cup with Merchiston Castle a few years ago, is set for a debut.
Stewart’s Melville entertain Hillhead/Jordanhill while, in Championship B, highlight could be Murrayfield Wanderers’ encounter with Musselburgh. There are away trips for Lasswade and Haddington to, respectively, Kirkcaldy and Peebles.
The East Regional League starts tomorrow with Preston Lodge awaiting North Berwick and Portobello entertaining Berwick.