Boroughmuir sensation Andy Rose has revealed he is ready to keep resisting any overtures from the Zimbabwe side he captained in an under-19 World Cup to pursue the dream of a professional contract in his adopted Scotland.
The 23-year-old flanker, who has been outstanding in a ’Muir Premiership campaign which continues tomorrow against Glasgow Hawks at Meggetland, took Scottish eligibility through an Aberdeen-born mother to turn out at Under-20 World Cup level in dark blue and last season moved to Edinburgh on completion of a BA in Sports Management and Business at Hartpury College, Gloucestershire.
With Zimbabwe started to re-emerge as a force in African rugby – they are now up to third in the continent’s rankings – the sporting authorities are understandably frustrated seeing the likes of Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira (South Africa), David Pocock (Australia) and Dave Denton (Scotland) achieve international status elsewhere while the Premiership’s top try-scorer, Barry Mansfield of Currie, is also Zimbabwe-born.
But Rose, a tearaway flanker, insists: “I’m keen to stay in the Scottish system and remain hopeful a call might come giving me a chance to show what I can do at a professional level.
“Having been very proud to represent Scotland Under-20 alongside the likes of Ruaridh Jackson and Richie Gray, I appreciate the opportunities that have been created here.
“I was attached to the sevens squad for a spell so maybe I am not too far away.
“But I did return to Zimbabwe last summer and things are improving again after the national side appeared in the first two World Cups and then dropped off the radar.”
It is hard to discuss Zimbabwe without reference to political turmoil in that country and Rose admits: “When I was 14 my family had to leave our farm in Mashonaland and move to the town of Marondera.
“I found it difficult not being on the farm and the bigger picture was that I sat down with my family and later my rugby coaches and decided it would be best for me, like so many others, to move overseas.
“The coaches were disappointed but understood my position; maybe I could still go down the ‘Zim’ route but I’m determined to be the best I can in Scottish rugby.”
Strong links with his home rugby scene remain with Rose revealing: “Dave Denton [who has just signed a two-year contract extension with Edinburgh] was a couple of years below me at Peterhouse School and the captain of the First XV I played with was Tendai Mtawarira.
“Back then he played No. 8 rather than prop but was still a massive figure. Running in support of his ball carrying meant trekking over bodies scattered all over the school pitch.
“But he remains humble to the extent that when Scotland played South Africa at Murrayfield last season he provided tickets for my brother and me so that we found ourselves sitting amongst the Springbok families.
“Growing up in Zimbabwe with one million per cent inflation wasn’t easy and nor was the passing away of my dad a couple of years ago.
“But those experiences have helped shape me and maybe given a harder edge to my rugby which I am very keen to use for Boroughmuir.”
All the teams filling the top five in the table have suffered defeats, and confronting Hawks, second bottom, could be viewed as an easing of pressure as Boroughmuir bid to consolidate a place in the top eight before the split.
But Rose is keen to demolish any hint of complacency with the same physicality he brings to his role and which necessitated taking the 2002 season out to recover from injuries sustained putting his body on the line.
“There’s a dog-fight looming for the top eight places,” he says, adding: “And this is the time for Boroughmuir to step up.”
Alas, ’Muir captain Malcolm Clapperton’s return from injury to the bench last week has proved short-lived and he is out with a recurrent hamstring injury to be replaced by Stevie Wilson at centre.
Up front, Matt Harvey starts at blindside with Jamie Swanson dropping to the bench while Alex Henderson moves up to cover back row from the bench after some good performances at reserve level.
Elsewhere in the Capital, ninth-placed Accies await a one-change Gala side currently lying second and who have David Marshall in for Gary Graham at flanker.
Also restricting themselves to one change – Adam Best for Gary Temple at lock – Currie head for Hawick while Heriot’s are at Aberdeen Grammar FP looking to end a six-match losing streak.