Motherwell’s Gary Strain has achieved his ambition of playing at the highest level of club rugby in Britain.
The former Dalziel star made his debut this month for Newcastle Falcons who are back in England’s Aviva Premiership.
The big loosehead prop is relishing the chance to lock horns with some of the biggest names in the game, but plays down the idea that he might soon be pressing for a place in Scotland’s international set-up.
Strain (25) played for his country at under-18, 19 and 20 level and his promising displays earned him a move from Dalziel to Glasgow Hawks.
He then spent two seasons with Massy Essonne is the second tier of French club rugby before moving to Newcastle - coached by former British Lion Dean Richards - in the summer.
There he has joined a sizeable Scottish contingent including former international team skipper Mike Blair and Phil Godman.
Strain came on as a replacement during newly-promoted Newcastle’s opening day 21-0 defeat against Bath and had a 20-minute run out in the second half of Saturday’s 31-6 loss against champions Leicester.
The Leicester team included English stars Manu Tuilagu, Toby Flood and Ben Youngs, but Strain isn’t the type to be starstruck.
He said: “It’s great to be up against guys who played for the British Lions in the summer, but I try to keep a clear head and take things as they come.
“It was pleasing to make my debut and then play against Leicester, but disappointing not to get results from those games. I’m hoping to get more game time so I’ll just get my head down, work hard and hopefully win my place at some point.”
Strain is grateful to Dalziel and Hawks for helping him to develop as a player. A group from both clubs hope to see him in action when Newcastle face Gloucester this Sunday.
He said: “I owe a lot to the guys at Dalziel and Hawks for the rugby education I got.
“I always hoped I would get a crack at the Premiership. Every time you step up a level you find the pace of the game and the players is quicker, but we’ve had a good pre-season and hopefully that has us in the best shape possible.”
Strain’s profile is due to rise if he can get regular Premiership action and he would love to make the Scotland selectors sit up and take notice.
He admitted: “Playing for Scotland has always been my dream, but it’s one step at a time and I have a few steps to take before I reach that stage.”