England-qualified Graham gets Scotland call

Gregor Townsend (Getty Images)
Gregor Townsend (Getty Images)

London - England-qualified back-row Gary Graham insisted he was "Scottish through-and-through" after being called up on Monday by Scotland coach Gregor Townsend for the remaining November internationals.

Graham, the son of former Scotland prop and forwards coach George Graham, was born in the Scottish city of Stirling and is a former Scotland Under-20 international.

But the 26-year-old loose forward, who plays his club rugby for English Premiership side Newcastle, also qualifies for England on residency grounds.

Last season, having not been capped by Scotland at senior level, he was called up into England's Six Nations squad but did not play.

Graham moved to the northern English city of Carlisle at the age of three but returned to Scotland as a 17-year-old, playing rugby for the long-established Borders club of Gala before a move to Jersey preceded his arrival at Newcastle in 2017.

He could now make a Test debut against South Africa at Murrayfield on Saturday after being called up as a an injury replacement for Blade Thomson.

"It was great to hear from Gary that he wanted to commit to Scotland," said Townsend.

"It has become a competitive environment for dual-qualified players recently and we know that these are not easy decisions for players."

The former Scotland flyhalf added: "We've been tracking Gary since he was at Jersey and his form over the past 12 months at Newcastle has moved him closer to playing international rugby.

"We look forward to welcoming him into our squad for this week's camp."

Graham insisted there was no question in his own mind of where his loyalty lay.

"I'm Scottish through and through but England asked me first as I'm eligible through residency," he said.

"It would have been a silly opportunity to pass up, as I hadn't been selected for a Scotland squad since the Under-20s.

"I'm absolutely delighted to get this opportunity. I phoned Gregor to assure him I wanted to play for Scotland."

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