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Murphy is no longer simply an interested onlooker after Scotland call up

The make-up of the home squad for this week's Commonwealth Games Under-19 Nines in Cumbernauld has rekindled memories of one of the most extraordinary figures in Scottish rugby history.

His son of the same name, a character actor best known for his comedy roles, may now be rather better remembered, but Roy Kinnear was a truly remarkable individual in his own right. While more than a few Scots defied small-minded prejudice in the days when switching to rugby league meant being cast out of rugby union circles, Kinnear was unique in having done so as a product of private schools rugby when he signed for Wigan in 1927.

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The Heriot's FP was, alongside Alan Tait, a Borderer and the son of a rugby league professional who followed a more orthodox route into the 13-man code, is one of only two Scots to have played for both the ­British & Irish Lions in rugby union and Great Britain in rugby league.

Again like Tait, he clearly had both the strength of character and the capacity for opportunism that are the hallmarks of many great sportsmen, which bodes well for a young Herioteer who has made it into Scotland's squad for this week's tournament.

Finn Murphy acknowledged that he had never heard of Roy Kinnear when we spoke this week, nor did he know much about rugby league at the start of this past union season.

What he saw in the autumn caught his attention, however, and when, last month, the chance arose to have a go at the 13-a-side game, a lad who has played union for a decade and more had the gumption to go for it.

"I had watched quite a lot of the Rugby League World Cup where Scotland did quite well and I liked the contact side of it," said the 17-year-old. "I then saw an advert in May for the trial they were running to find players for the under-19 squad. At that stage I hadn't even started playing league, but I've now spent a bit of time with the Edinburgh Eagles."

Murphy's reasoning seems to echo one of the Scottish success stories of that Rugby League World Cup. David Scott, a relatively slight but recklessly brave Stirling County junior who felt his size limited his potential in rugby union, had joined the Easterhouse Panthers a couple of years before and found himself well suited to league.

His reward for making the switch was an appearance for Scotland in the quarter-finals of the World Cup against the dual-code All Black inter­nationalist Sonny Bill Williams, as well as many greats of the game.

Having been called up to compete in Cumbernauld, Murphy - a Heriot's pupil since he was four and the son of a Merchiston Castle FP - has now gained a level of recognition that he felt might be beyond him.

"I've played rugby union since I was about six and I've been in district squads and gone to national trials but I've never quite made it in union," he acknowledged.

"I'm not the biggest guy and I'm more into my fitness so I felt league probably suited me better without all the emphasis on rucking, mauling and scrummaging."

His inclusion in the national squad for this week's tournament has demonstrated that the team management was as good as its word in vowing that the trials would be ­genuinely open.

Murphy and his Scotland team-mates, some of whom he had not met before this week, face Australia, in­evitably tournament favourites, Wales and Jamaica in the pool stages at Broadwood Stadium on Friday. England, South Africa, Canada and Papua New Guinea contest the other pool ahead of Saturday's knockout stages.

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