Cameron Blades was like a breath of fresh air yesterday as he flew into Glasgow, soon to become home, on a brief visit from the land of Oz before getting back on a plane to Dublin for tonight's Celtic League match against Leinster.

Though capped only once by Australia, Blades arrived at Hughenden worthy of the respect of his new team-mates, not least having been part of the Australia A side who derailed the British & Irish Lions a few weeks ago.

Consequently, it would have been hugely encouraging for them to hear him explain how he rejected any chance of a future with the world champions and with New South Wales in Super 12 to pursue a new career.

The guarantee of involvement in the European Cup and his desire to experience the challenge of a new life on the other side of the world were major considerations.

However more importantly in rugby terms, he stressed that he is not among those southern hemisphere players arriving in the UK to fund their pensions, since he was on a lucrative contract in Sydney.

''I always wanted to have a stint in the northern hemisphere and I didn't want to do it when I'd retired. Guys who come to the northern hemisphere with that attitude don't last long.

''I wanted to do it while I still have fresh legs, so at this stage I would say I've turned my back on Australia because it's impossible to play for them while playing in the northern hemisphere as the season is structured.''

His enthusiasm will serve to remind his new colleagues that the doom and gloom which so often pervades the domestic game is misplaced within the overall context of the burgeoning European rugby scene.

Admittedly, Tuesday night's performance against former European champions Northampton was far from impressive, while tonight's Celtic League opener in Dublin, which sees Blades instantly inserted into the 22, is a particularly tough call.

However, the side for this match is a much more powerful one with Dave Hilton and Jason White shaking off injuries to be among eight internationalists returning to the starting line-up.

Matt Williams, Blades' fellow Aussie and coach of Leinster, has also voiced unease about having to face a Scottish side first up, worrying about their ''in your face'' approach and refusal to accept defeat, while his side go in without Lions Brian O'Driscoll and Malcolm O'Kelly.

That said, the Scots who did most to give him that cause for concern would seem to have the greater reason for optimism as they enter the new competition.

The then Edinburgh Reivers produced two remarkable results in defeating Leinster at home last year, then recovering from an 18- point deficit to draw with them at Donnybrook, so perhaps the best example of what seems a renewed spirit within Scottish rugby came yesterday when Frank Hadden, Edinburgh's coach, expressed his surprise at those results in explaining just why he so frequently carried a haunted look in his first season as a professional coach.

''At this stage last year I was tearing my hair out,'' he admitted.

''We went through two warm-up matches and broke the gain line twice, so if somebody at that stage had said we would take seven points off Northampton and Leinster in Europe I would have been staggered.

''This year we're miles ahead of where we were then. The summer we've just had has been so refreshingly different.''

He knows, though, that preparation is one thing and execution another, so the challenge could not be greater.

''Munster have to be one of the top four sides in Europe so it's a fantastic chance to measure where we are,'' he said.

''I love watching Munster play and in some ways I would like to emulate what they do.

''The fact that Ronan O'Gara isn't playing has probably disappointed the marketing men, but they've still got a lot of good footballers.''

So too, though, do the home side with the result that, as in the Irish capital, the Celtic League can get off to a flying start in its Scottish counterpart tonight.

Edinburgh v Munster at Myreside (7.30)

Edinburgh C Paterson; C Murray, M Di Rollo, C Howarth, C Sharman; D Hodge, G Burns capt; A Jacobsen, S Scott, C Smith, A Dall, R Metcalfe, D Mackinnon, M Leslie, S Taylor. Replacements: P Robertson, G Whittingham, M Jolly, G Dall, I Fairley, G Ross, K Davidson

Munster J Staunton; J O'Neill or D Crotty, M Mullins, J Kelly, A Horgan; J Holland, P Stringer; P Clohessy, F Sheahan, J Hayes, M Galwey, M O'Driscoll, A Quinlan, A Foley, D Wallace. Relacements M Horan, J Blaney, D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell, M Prendergast, K Keane, C Mahony or D Crotty

Leinster v Glasgow at Donnybrook (7.35)

Leinster G Dempsey; D Hickie, A Magro, S Horgan, G D'Arcy; N Spooner or A Dunne, B O'Meara; R Corrigan capt, S Byrne, P Coyle, B Casey, L Cullen, T Brennan, K Gleeson, V Costello. Replacements N Treston, D Blayney, L Toland, A McCullen, B Willis, A Dunne or D Quinlan, P McKenna

Glasgow G Kiddie; J Steel, J McLaren, A Henderson, R Kerr; T Hayes, A Nicol capt; D Hilton G Bulloch, L Harrison, S Griffiths, J White, G Simpson, D Macfadyen, J Petrie. Replacements G Scott, C Blades, N Ross, G Flockhart, C Black, J Stuart, I McInroy

murrayfield legends

Who was Scotland's greatest ever rugby player?

Who would have made it into a greatest ever XV?

Who was the bravest man to pull on a Scotland shirt?

Who was the most thrilling runner and who was the most resolute defender?

Who deserved much more credit for his contribution to the cause than he received?

Take your chance to vote on all of those categories, and more, when The Herald launches Murrayfield Legends on Saturday.

It all culminates in what is sure to be one of the most glittering occasions in Scottish rugby history at Holyrood Palace in November . . . and you could be there.

Don't miss out. Buy The Herald tomorrow and get involved from the start.