NEWS | McCallum relishing international challenge

When Edinburgh prop Murray McCallum scampered onto the Principality Stadium’s vast turf in the 65th minute of Scotland’s NatWest 6 Nations defeat to Wales, he not only crossed off a personal goal, but he created a small piece of history.

The 1090th player to represent Scotland – a number the Kirkcaldy native will no doubt be hearing for some time – and now with a cap to his name, the prop is hoping for another taste of the international stage.

“It all happened pretty quickly,” explained McCallum. “We’d just got back from a warm-up with Mark Robertson and sat down on the bench, then Cookie the kit-man suddenly said: “Right Muz, you’re up.

“Being a prop, I was really hopeful of getting on. I’d tip my hat to Jon Welsh if he went the full 80 minutes however! During the first-half, I was really just readying myself physically and mentally. Watching from the bench, you get a pretty good feel about how quick the game moves and feels.

“Playing international rugby can be so much of a mental thing, so it’s really just about breaking that barrier. I’ve played against most of the guys in the Wales team in the Guinness PRO14, so it shouldn’t be any different. Although there are bigger pressures and more eyes on you, you’ve just got to think: ‘it’s another game of rugby.’”

It has been quite the journey for the former Dunfermline RFC star. It was only last season that the prop was turning out for BT Premiership outfit Heriot’s, however, after making his Edinburgh debut as a replacement in the 45-10 defeat of Treviso, the tighthead has gone from strength-to-strength.

After signing a professional contract with the club last year, McCallum has been a regular fixture in Edinburgh’s matchday 23 – and the prop explains how his club teammates made all the difference in allowing him to settle into the international scene.

It helped with there being a lot Edinburgh boys there – especially in the forwards – who’ve helped me integrate into the camp. It’s not been too hard fitting in as we’ve got a really good group of boys and they’ve been incredibly welcoming to the new caps in the squad.

McCallum does admit, however, that he, and his family, are still rubbing their eyes in disbelief over his journey to international rugby’s top tier.

“I’ve only been a professional for seven months, so for my dad, it was probably pretty hard for him to get his head around!

“They’ve seen me go from Dunfermline; then to boarding school at Strathallan; up to Aberdeen to give university a go; and then obviously rugby came knocking – which was an opportunity down in Edinburgh. It’s been great, because my family have always told me stick at it. I’m definitely doing it for them, as well as myself.”

“My mum, dad and brother were all there at the Principality. As well as my girlfriend and her mum. It was brilliant having them all in Wales to witness it – as I know how much it means to my whole family.”

“It was obviously a brilliant experience to make my debut down in Wales – albeit a bit different with the match being away from home, but it didn’t take away anything from how special it was. I’d love to get a run out at Murrayfield. I hope the opportunity comes, if not this championship, then hopefully another time.”