Having hauled himself back from the brink of international obscurity, Jason White is determined to pay Scotland coach Frank Hadden back for giving him the opportunity to play against New Zealand on Saturday.
The Sale Sharks back row has only played a handful of games for his club this season and, after an injury ravaged couple of years, it looked as if he was going to drop out of the Scotland set-up altogether.
Hadden even phoned to inform him that he was unlikely to be included in the 31-man training squad which congregated in La Manga in the south of Spain last week, ahead this autumn’s Test schedule.
However, the former Scotland captain managed to convince Hadden to give him one last chance. In La Manga his work-rate and the high standard of training so impressed the Scottish management team that on they controversially selected him at blindside flanker ahead of the likes of Alasdair Strokosch, Allister Hogg and Kelly Brown for Saturday’s showdown against the All Blacks.
“I knew that my lack of game time was going to have an impact, I knew that I possibly wasn’t going to go to La Manga, and I was lucky that the lines of communication were open about that,” said White.
“I spoke to Frank and he explained why I possibly wasn’t going to go. I said that I disagreed, and that I thought that what I bring as a player merits my inclusion. I put my case forward and I don’t know what discussions then took place between the coaching team, but I had to wait about a week before I got the text message saying that I was in.
“Once I was on the trip I was determined to go out there, keep my head down and put in some good performances in training.
“I just tried to prepare well for every session and the big thing with new coaches coming in was showing that I understood what they wanted from me.
“Hopefully my attitude was good, and hopefully they have been impressed with the way I have been playing for Sale during the last couple of weeks. Obviously there is a lot of competition in the back row, so I’ve just got to concentrate on myself and getting ready for a massive test at the weekend.”
Despite going from first name on the team-sheet to late inclusion, White is content just to remain involved in international rugby.
“You’ve just got to try and be humble and recognise that playing for Scotland is a massive achievement, regardless of what has gone before,” he said.
“Obviously it was a bit of a change because I was very privileged to be captain so many times, but I think I can still use my experience from that whenever I am involved with the national team,” he said.