IT was only five months ago that Cole Forbes decided he needed to grab the bull by the horns to resurrect a professional rugby career which he feared was stagnating back in his native New Zealand.

So he packed his bags and headed north for a trial with Glasgow Warriors, and is now in the frame to become a full Scotland cap during this summer’s mini tour to Eastern Europe. The 21-year-old utility-back – who played three times for the Junior All Blacks during the 2019 U20s World Championship (although he missed their pool match against Scotland) and three seasons for Bay of Plenty in New Zealand’s Mitre 10 Cup – switched hemispheres in late January and took less than a month to persuade Warriors head coach Danny Wilson that he was worth a ‘multi-year deal’ at the club.

In the four matches he has played so far for Warriors, Forbes has been assured in defence and incisive in attack (scoring three tries for the club already).

It hasn’t been flawless. There have been a few soft penalties, including a yellow-card and penalty-try conceded for tackling Cian Kelleher in the air during his debut against Leinster. He believes that he is still adapting to the more structured style of rugby played in the UK and recognises that his kicking game and fielding of the high ball are two particular ‘work-ons’.

But the good comfortably outweighs the bad, and with Stuart Hogg, Duhan van der Merwe (both on Lions duty) and Darcy Graham (recovering from shoulder surgery) all unavailable for Scotland this summer, Mike Blair – the national team’s stand-in head coach – could be tempted to test this most recent ‘kilted-kiwi’ at the next level. Scotland play an A international against England in Leicester on 27th June, followed by two full cap matches in Romania on 10th July and Georgia one week later.

“My Granddad was born up in Aberdeen and left for New Zealand when he was four years old,” explains Forbes. “It was only a couple of months ago that I found out that I am able to play for Scotland and decided to go down that route.

“I played Mitre 10 Cup with Hugh Blake, who used to play for Glasgow Warriors, and he got wind of the fact I was Scottish qualified. He got me in contact with an agent up here and they fixed up a trial. I was only meant to come for three months and then return home, but Danny was impressed enough by me to keep me on, so I decided to stay for a few years, which is exciting.

“Back home, there is so much talent that I made the decision back in January that I was getting pushed to the back – after a few injuries put me down the line – so I was like: ‘I might as well come over to Scotland when I am only 21 and build that aim of playing for Scotland’.”

Before moving north, Forbes was juggling his rugby commitments with working at KPMG on a placement from Waikato University. Now, he is still studying distantly for a Bachelor of Business degree (majoring in accounting) on a part-time basis but is clearly delighted to have a better work/study balance in his life.

“I was working 40 hours a week, up in the morning at 5am to go to the gym, then training at night, so it is quite nice coming over here being able to be a full-time rugby player,” he says. “It makes life easier and, definitely, that was the main reason to come here for that three-month trial. “I'm still watching lectures on video and doing the work on my days off,” he adds. "It means I will have something to fall back on after footy.”

Forbes is quick to state that an international call-up this summer was not on his radar when he initially arrived on these shores, but he would clearly jump at the opportunity if it landed at his feet. “If it happens, I will be stoked, and it will be a huge surprise,” he says. “But at the moment I am just worried about playing well for Glasgow in these last two games.”

Back-to-back wins over Edinburgh in the team’s most recent outings has catapulted Warriors into contention to qualify for the play-off final of the Rainbow Cup. They take on Dragons away this Saturday evening, then Leinster at home six days later, and really need to win both matches to have a chance of finishing top of the table. Even then, they are looking for surprise pace-setters Benetton to slip-up.

“I am happy with the way I have been going and the boys have helped me settle in,” concludes Forbes. “I’ve had a good run of games and I’m just trying to do what I can to help the team win these last few games.”