He was suited and booted and ready for action.

And a pretty tasty piece of action at that. With five minutes left on the Murayfield clock, and with Scotland coasting to a comfortable win, Pat MacArthur was about to become an international player.

Well, that was the plan at least. For five minutes, MacArthur stood by the touchline, literally inches away from fulfilling his childhood dream. But things didn't quite work out, and as the minutes ticked away he felt a rising sense of panic. The referee blew for full-time, and the dream was dashed.

But only temporarily.

Four months and 8000 miles later, we find the Glasgow hooker standing in the Scotland team room at their Umhlanga base a few miles north of Durban. On Monday, he was told by Scott Johnson that he will be playing for his country against Samoa at King's Park, one of the great cathedrals of Test rugby. Playing, not sitting on the bench.

The news has sunk in, but the excitement level is still the same. "Ever since I was a little boy, I've wanted to play for Scotland," said MacArthur with obvious feeling. "After all the effort I have put in down the years, I've finally got the chance to do it."

His father was the next to know. Pat MacArthur Sr has supported his son all the way through and still comes to most of his games. It has been a long haul through mini, school and club rugby with Ayr, but on Saturday he will get his share of the reward.

At 26, MacArthur is the oldest of the new boys named in the starting line-up. The physical demands of the position mean that hookers tend to mature late, but as Johnson pointed out, MacArthur seems to have been on the cusp of a cap for an age. That it hasn't come before now is not entirely the fault of an unhelpful referee; the competition offered by players like Ross Ford, Dougie Hall and Scott Lawson has been a far bigger factor.

"I nearly forgot about Pat," laughed Johnson when he listed the newcomers. "He's been around the camp for so long. This is a good time for him to get a chance."

Having come so close to achieving glory, did MacArthur ever worry that the chance might never come again? He was only in the squad for that Italy match because Hall had been ruled out by a knee injury and MacArthur did not figure in the matchday squad for any of the remaining Six Nations this year. Did it ever cross his mind that he would die wondering what this Test rugby lark was all about?

More to the point, how on earth did he work out his frustrations after the game? Kick the cat? Kick the coach? Sob quietly in the corner?

None of the above. "After the game I just did some fitness work. The next day I did some training to keep my fitness up. I had to move on, go back and work to get my next chance," he said. "I always knew I had two experienced players in front of me who were playing well at the time. I knew I just had to keep my head down and keep working. Having that competition is good. I have it every week at Glasgow. It makes you perform better. I have it playing for Scotland as well, and the pressure is on me to perform."

Whatever he achieves at the top level of the game, MacArthur will always be associated with the great Ayr side that grew under coach Kenny Murray and which clinched the Scottish club championship in 2009. His performances for the club were crucial in securing his full-time contract at Glasgow, but his affection for his old club is still clear.

So, too, his excitement about what lies in store. "I feel fit and ready to go," said MacArthur with a wide smile. "As you do when you've just been told you will be starting for your country.

"If I can do well in the games over here and if I can keep kicking on from where I am, I can put pressure on Fordy and Dougie and have a chance of playing more international rugby, which is what I've always wanted."