Another bout of sibling rivalry is set to be unleashed on Scottish rugby after Tom McLaren turned his back on the Australian international scene in an attempt to join his brother James at Glasgow.

With Gordon and Alan Bulloch already together in the squad, the 22-year-old back-row forward was met at Glasgow Airport yesterday by his elder brother ahead of a four week trial with Glasgow - and he immediately made it clear that he is hoping for nothing less than to carve out a big future in the Scottish game.

Born in Stirling but brought to Australia when he was only four weeks old, McLaren has been captaining Penrith in Sydney first grade rugby and was recently selected for Australia's sevens squad.

That could have killed off his Scottish qualification because, unlike in Europe, both Australia and New Zealand treat playing for the national seven side as being the same as playing for either the national side or the A team, which means that players selected cannot then represent another country.

However, McLaren told The Herald yesterday that he had made sure that he had not wrecked his Scotland chances. ''It was a 20 man squad and I went over with them to the Papua New Guinea tournament, but we went as the Australian Barbarians so it did not commit me,'' he said.

''I checked that out with them and was told that if I had made the team and played in the World Sevens circuit then I would have been Australian.

''However, while I definitely wanted to do as much as I possibly could in Australian rugby, this was always the way I wanted to go.

''It was always my priority to come back to Scotland and this is my opportunity to see if I've got what Glasgow want.''

Unlike his elder brother, the timing of the family's emigration meant Tom had absolutely no chance to retain his Scottish accent, but he has made clear his instinctive affiliation in the past having, on the traditional antipodean year out before starting university, spent a season with Stirling County.

''When I finished high school I came back and played with Stirling and that gave me a chance to get a feel of what it's like here,'' he said.

''It really is good to be back. This is my eighth time back to Scotland and it feels like a bit of a homecoming because, apart from my parents, all our family is here.''

Richie Dixon, Glasgow's coach, confirmed that he and his assistants had subsequently been monitoring McLaren's progress for some time and reckoned the time was now right to give him his chance.

''It is an area we are a bit short in anyway and with both Jonny Petrie and Donny Macfadyen injured at the moment we are stretched for back-row cover,'' said Dixon who has also, in the national team's interest, been trying to ensure that Jason White plays regularly at lock while giving Roland Reid the chance to develop more fully as a Test winger.

The timing is also now right for McLaren, who finished his studies only last Tuesday, graduating - perhaps quite appropriately given both the work ethic and commitment to creativity manifest at Glasgow - in industrial design from Western

Sydney University.

Mainly a blindside flanker, McLaren has played in all three positions in the back-row and while there are now apparently distinct similarities in their abrasive running style, unlike James, who recently said he had grown up in Australian rugby as ''a skinny wee winger,'' Tom jokingly reckoned he had been ''a fat forward who worked my way back to the back-row.''

As he seeks to prove himself, McLaren's arrival could help provide an extra edge at an important time, as could the return of any of injured trio Glenn Metcalfe, Jonny Petrie and Dave Hilton, all of whom could be back for Glasgow's next match.

Dixon has, after all, acknowledged that after the let-down of going out in the Celtic League semi-finals last weekend followed by a weekend off, there could be no more dangerous fixture for his men than a trip to Caerphilly on December 22.

After all, while it is a match that the team which led the Scottish/Welsh League until this weekend would be expected to win against the bottom side, it was at Virginia Park last season that they suffered their most embarrassing defeat ever. While Dixon has indicated that the opportunity will be taken this week to do some additional fitness work because there is no weekend fixture, an outside possibility has emerged that McLaren could get the opportunity to show what he can do on the pitch before that.

Following their departure from the Celtic League 24 hours after Glasgow, Alan Solomons, Ulster's coach, is understood to be frustrated at not having a fixture this weekend.

That, then, raises the intriguing possibility of an unofficial third place play-off, or perhaps more realistically an opportunity for a Development team comprising fringe players from Glasgow and Edinburgh who have not seen much action in recent weeks, to play.

Dixon said he would look at that favourably and there may now be some discussion between Glasgow and Ulster officials over the next few days.