Rugby Union: Metcalfe takes centre stage

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The Independent Online
THE Glasgow Hawks full-back Glenn Metcalfe will take centre stage at Murrayfield today as the Second Division champions aim to cap a remarkable first season with a Tennents Velvet Cup triumph over Kelso.

But it surely will not be the last time the New Zealander enjoys top billing at the national stadium as a first Scotland cap beckons ever closer with each new try. The 26-year-old former Waikato provincial player could achieve that goal when he returns to the southern hemisphere as part of the tour party heading for Fiji and Australia later this month.

Before that, however, lies the challenge of helping the Hawks soar to even greater heights. Runaway winners of their own division with weeks to spare and having already comfortably disposed of three Premiership One sides en-route to the final, they will start as firm favourites against Adam Roxburgh's Border raiders.

But Metcalfe, despite his obvious self-belief, is wary of raising expectations too high: "We have scored some nice tries this season and won games well, but it is a totally different ball game going into a final like this," he said. "I played a couple of games at Murrayfield two years ago in the district championship... but this will be the biggest game I have played at club level for the Hawks."

Not least, he admits, because of the departure of no less than seven of the Hawks side, plus three of Kelso's, to the Scottish Rugby Union's two new "super districts" next season. "It's a shame really that it's probably the last time we'll play together as a team," Metcalfe added. "We have done so well in our first season and, right from day one, we have played for each other.

The Hawks have won through to the Murrayfield stage on the back of victories over Watsonians and Boroughmuir in the two previous rounds, but Kelso, meanwhile, have already done superbly to get this far, having also accounted for Premiership One opposition in their last three ties.

For the coach, Bruce Rutherford, who has also steered the club to the brink of the top flight via next Saturday's play-off decider against Heriot's FP, the cup run has been a welcome bonus: "I would rather win the one the following week to be honest - that is the one we have been working all season for," he admitted. "But now that we are there, we will go out to give it our best shot before thinking about Heriot's."