A Scotsman who also happened to be a Hearts supporter.
"Every Christmas I get a Hearts jersey," said the London Irish flanker who, along with his clubmate Kieran Low, was named in Scotland's autumn Test squad a week ago. "I sometimes wear it to training, but everyone just laughs at me. Whenever I come to Edinburgh my brother-in-law has a Hearts ticket waiting for me and I get dragged along to a game. I think I'm bad karma, though, as they always seem to lose when I'm there."
As more regular visitors to Tynecastle are only too well aware, Hearts are perfectly capable of losing without Cowan's assistance. Of more pressing concern to those who take their sporting pleasure across the road at Murrayfield is what effect the 27-year-old might have on the fortunes of the Scotland rugby team. Scott Johnson praised Cowan's versatility when he added him to the national squad last week, and, on the evidence of his display for London Irish against Newcastle on Sunday, the New Zealander is certainly an all-rounder.
Of course, Cowan's age and origins prompted suspicions he was also something of a carpet-bagger, switching his national allegiance at the first whiff of a cap. Yet while his accent is firmly rooted in the Land of the Long White Cloud, you don't have to speak to Cowan for very long to realise a large part of his heart has always been in the Highlands.
His forename reflects that background. His mother Joan was raised in the Argyll village of Blairmore, just across the Holy Loch from Dunoon, and it was in homage to her upbringing that she named her son. But there is more than a nominal attachment in his mind, and he clearly resents the suggestion of opportunism that his presence in the Scotland squad might provoke.
"Representing Scotland was definitely my dream," he said. "It wasn't just something that was handy, having Scottish roots. I stress that to people - it has always been my ambition to play for Scotland. I spoke to my grandad just after I was named in the squad. All he could say was 'jeez-oh' in his strong Scottish accent.
"My mother is the same. She has been in New Zealand for 40-odd years, but she hasn't lost her accent. Being Scottish has always been very strong on my side, very important to me. Back home, I always knew I wanted to go this way eventually."
It has been a long, hard journey. Five years ago, Cowan joined Cornish Pirates, where his 26 tries in 79 appearances was an impressive return for a back-row player. His next stop was Worcester, where his contribution of seven tries in one season was another decent haul for a side struggling in the Premiership. In a handful of games for London Irish since a summer move, he has got over the line a couple of times.
Small wonder that Johnson started paying attention. "When he got wind of the fact that I was qualified, we met up," said Cowan. "He wasn't telling me I would be in the squad at that point, but it was a useful heads up and it gave me something more to play for every week. It wasn't until the Monday before the squad was named that I got the call telling me I was in.
"It was good to know that I was being watched, but you play rugby because you love the game so I wouldn't say I was thinking about Scotland on the pitch. Yes, it was definitely an incentive, but I wouldn't say it was my main drive."
Cowan sat out training yesterday as did two players who will miss the three-day camp - the Edinburgh winger Tim Visser and the Saracens centre Duncan Taylor - and, while most of the squad are strangers, the scenario does not trouble him.
"You face it every time you join a new club," he said. "Everyone is on the same page - they just want to do well for the team. Hopefully we'll get straight down to work and get to know each other pretty quickly. I just want to absorb as much knowledge as fast as I can."
The saltire is no flag of convenience. "We had a big family gathering last year," he said. "My mother came back to Blairmore for the first time since she left. It was amazing for her; I didn't know it was going to be such an emotional experience."