IT has been a frustrating summer for Cole Forbes. A call-up for the Scotland squad was an unexpected bonus, coming just a few months after he joined Glasgow Warriors, but then came the cancellation of all three of the national team’s fixtures for Covid-related reasons.
Now, though, a return to action is in sight for the 22-year-old, as the Warriors prepare to play Newcastle Falcons on Friday in the first of their two pre-season friendlies. The match will see a return of spectators to Scotstoun, too, after a 19-month absence. It will be Forbes’ first experience of playing in front of a home crowd if selected – something he is by no means taking for granted.
The back-three player’s rapid rise to prominence last season was in part a deserved reward for good form, but it was also dictated by circumstances. At Glasgow, Danny Wilson felt it right to give some of his younger players a chance in the Rainbow Cup after the PRO14 campaign had ended in relatively disappointing fashion.

At national level, interim head coach Mike Blair had to assemble a squad depleted by the absence of eight Scots who were on Lions duty and several other senior players who it was deemed best to rest.

So, far from presuming he will be in the Scotland squad again when the autumn internationals come around, Forbes is focusing primarily on the fight to get into a Warriors team that now includes such talents as his fellow-New Zealander Josh McKay and Argentine winger Sebastian Cancelliere.

“After being involved in the summer camp I want to be involved in the autumn,” he said last week when asked about his international aspirations. “But knowing there’s the likes of Stuart Hogg and Duhan [van der Merwe] coming back from the Lions makes it a lot tougher. So I’m only worried about playing well for Glasgow just now, and if other stuff comes it comes, but I’m not really fussed about that at the moment.”

The cancellation of the planned matches against England “A”, Romania and Georgia was a blow to everyone in the Scotland squad, but Forbes, who is eligible thanks to having a grandfather from Aberdeen, still found being with the group a useful experience.

“It came as a shock to me when I got the call-up,” he said. “I’d come over here on trial and was hoping to play well for Glasgow and it went better than expected.

“We had the first full week of training then we went into the England “A” game week, then Covid hit in the middle of that and we went into isolation for ten days. Came out, there were still cases, so the Romania game got cancelled, then we hoped to go away to Georgia and that got canned.

“In the end we trained for about two-and-a-half weeks and were in camp for four. It was a bit frustrating not being able to play, but it was good to be in that environment for a bit. It was a good intro. It showed how big a step up international rugby is. And it was good there was a good Warriors contingent and a lot of young boys. That made it a lot easier, and I’d like to get more involved any way possible.”

Given the quality of the players recruited this summer by Wilson, Forbes may have to wait patiently before he gets an extended run in the team, something that will surely be a prerequisite for any second Scotland call-up. But in his half-dozen Glasgow appearances  he has already shown that when he is given a chance, he seizes it with both hands. Those summer postponements may have denied him a Test debut thus far, but his day will surely come sooner rather than later.