It was in a Capital burger restaurant this week that Grayson Hart began to suspect his luck was turning for the better.
The first of Edinburgh Rugby’s summer signings from the Southern Hemisphere, scrum half Hart has had to wait – and wait – for an opportunity partly through injury and it must have seemed a long way from his New Zealand home, albeit he is Scottish qualified through a Glasgow granny.
But there on the table in front of him stood a bottle of Kaitaia Fire sauce...
“I’d been looking everywhere for that hot and spicy stuff because it is the local delicacy back in the town of Kaitaia on the northernmost tip of New Zealand where I was born,” said Hart.
Suddenly it began to feel a bit more like home and a few days later integration to the Edinburgh scene was enhanced by a call to start his first match, against Gloucester at Kingsholm tomorrow, in the Heineken European Cup.
Now all that’s needed is for Hart to bring his strike rate from the Rabo Direct Pro 12 which amounts to a try for the 17 minutes in total he has been on the field, away to Ulster, and Edinburgh will really be in business.
“Yes, patiently and impatiently I’ve been biding my time,” admits Hart, who is the nephew of former All Blacks coach, John Hart. “At the start I had a knee problem that the guys here were a bit concerned about and that set me back a couple of months. However, I did get a few club games.”
One of these was for Currie against Gala who at that time were resisting the idea of including pros on release.
When Gala’s policy changed Hart was drafted to them ... against Currie.
“That was really interesting but I’m not sure if I knew the moves well enough from playing with Currie to have been able to know what they were about in order to help Gala!”
Hart will very much be up to speed when he takes over from the resting Greig Laidlaw tomorrow and, equally, will have no trouble handling the pressurised atmosphere of Kingsholm.
“I played in the final fo the ITM Cup (New Zealand’s inter provincial championship) for Auckland at Eden Park when I was 19 years old and won while my Super Rugby debut came against the Blue Bulls in Pretoria. So I’ve enjoyed some big occasions.
“As a scrum half you always want to be organising, be accurate in everything you do and know structures inside out – that’s what I hope to bring at Gloucester.
“I also enjoy the running side of things, looking for opportunities as well as getting stuck in physically. I like to make a tackle or two and give the big boys a rest if I can!
“Being a half back you have to go into game with the team in mind, to ensure we go forward and that will be my focus.
“But I will be looking for those inside balls from the big forward runners, trying to snap up the offloads from running the fat man’s track up the middle of the pitch.”
That is Hart’s colourful way of referring to how the bulky forwards can bulldoze openings for the more fleet of foot and there will certainly be a lot riding on his display with there being no need to fulfil a residency qualification for Scotland.
“I was actually presented with an opportunity to come to Scotland a year earlier but didn’t feel ready. I’m 100 per cent ready now and while I know Greig Laidlaw is the Scottish No.1 I can benefit from learning from him.
“Greig is a player who has established himself and tactically is very good.
“Any half back can learn a lot from that. Greig does not always rely on pace or physicality. He does it with his brains. I can pick up a lot from that.”
If ever Edinburgh need an inspiration in European competition to keep hopes alive it is now, after two defeats from their opening three games, and it will be particularly interesting to see if Hart employs the tap-and-go tactic from free kicks and penalties that Edinburgh mostly eschew, largely for good reason.
Hart insists: “We go in with the mindset we want to win and that is our aim. Should it happen it will surely be sauce for Edinburgh’s Euro hopes; Kaitaia Fire, of course!