Nick Grigg: Glasgow centre says 'loads' of Scottish-qualified talent in New Zealand

By Jamie LyallBBC Scotland
Nick Grigg in Glasgow Warriors training
Wellington native Nick Grigg arrived in Glasgow in 2015

Nick Grigg believes Scotland can exploit a large market of eligible talent in his native New Zealand.

The Glasgow Warriors centre, who hails from Wellington, qualifies for Scotland through his grandfather.

Eighteen New Zealand-born "kilted Kiwis" have represented Scotland since 1990, when Sean Lineen was part of Jim Telfer's Grand Slam-winning vintage.

"There are loads of guys that come through school and don't quite make the New Zealand franchises," Grigg said.

"I guess they get involved in other sports, in university and work, so they don't really get to push for that goal they wanted."

The 25-year-old played for Hurricanes' development team in his homeland, but was not included in the Wellington side's Super Rugby squad.

Sean Lineen in action for Scotland against Japan
Sean Lineen (right) helped Scotland to their third Grand Slam in 1990, going on to coach Glasgow Warriors

He was brought to Scotstoun for a trial in 2015 by former Glasgoow - and current Scotland - head coach Gregor Townsend, after posting an online highlights package of himself in action.

Grigg earned an academy contract, before forcing his way into the Glasgow squad, and winning his first Test cap in the loss to Fiji last summer.

The centre was one of four New Zealand-born players selected for Townsend's squad for the autumn Tests in November.

Scottish Rugby is intensifying its search for Scotland-eligible talent abroad, with scouts stationed across England and overseas - in France, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Japan - as part of the governing body's recently-launched Scottish Qualified programme.external-link

Asked if New Zealand is a large market Scottish Rugby can tap into, Grigg replied: "Definitely. I know it's always good when you have the Scottish born-and-bred coming through, but there are lots of people back home that would be keen to come over and give it a shot as well.

"But you can say that about every country really, I guess I was just lucky enough to put up a video on YouTube and come over here."

Sean Maitland scores for Scotland against Australia
New Zealand-born Sean Maitland scored in Scotland's autumn rout of Australia

Grigg starts for Glasgow in their Pro14 encounter with Zebre in Parma this Saturday, partnering new signing and Scotland colleague Huw Jones in midfield.

He acknowledges the coming month is "very important" for his Six Nations prospects, as he competes for a centre berth with Glasgow colleagues Jones, Alex Dunbar and Pete Horne, as well as fit-again Saracen Duncan Taylor, Gloucester's Matt Scott and Mark Bennett of Edinburgh.

"I want to perform for Glasgow, get those wins under our belt, but also for that Six Nations, hopefully I can get my foot in the door again and get a shot," Grigg added.

Gregor Townsend
Gregor Townsend's Scotland begin their Six Nations campaign against Wales on 3 February

"[The centres] are rich with talent. I know what I have to do, I know what I have to work on, I just have to keep working hard and fingers crossed.

"Over the autumn Tests, it was a big thing on my defence, making sure my attack's going well, but that I keep that tackle percentage up throughout the game. That was one of my big work-ons."