Scotland centre Alex Grove admits his own Scotland debut came ahead of schedule but now he has got a taste of international rugby he does not want to let go of it.
Grove barely registered his own name being read out by Andy Robinson for the new coach’s first game in charge against Fiji last autumn but better was to come as the 22-year-old was a key defensive cog in the monumental win over Australia.
Although Worcester is hardly renowned as the most fashionable place for budding internationals, Grove says there is no better place to continue his development than under former Wales coach Mike Ruddock.
He said: “I set myself a target at the beginning of last year of getting my first cap but in all honesty I thought it might be in the following year’s summer tour.
“My opportunity came early but you have to be ready to grab any chance that comes your way with both hands. You can’t ask for an opportunity and not be prepared to seize it.
“Mike Ruddock has had great success with the Wales team so he knows what players have to be capable of to play at the top level. I am always asking him how I can improve my game and push myself further.
“I have got another year and a half on my contract and I am not even thinking of going anywhere else. Sixways is a great environment to be in; we are progressing all the time and I want to be part of that development.
“I would not rule out playing somewhere else in the future but at the moment I am really happy here.
“It is quite obvious Worcester are not the most fashionable club in the land. The guys here are not in the spotlight all the time. But there are no cliques or egos here, we are tight-knit and the type that just get our heads down.
“You have got Chris Latham, who at 34 and has achieved so much in the game, is still the most dedicated trainer and always ready to pass on advice.”
What made Grove’s debut even more special was the attendance of his grandfather – former West Brom manager Ron Wylie.
Wylie enjoyed a glittering 20-year playing career with the likes of Notts County, Aston Villa and Birmingham but only had a Scotland schoolboys cap (currently hanging in the Grove household) to show for his efforts.
That will now be exchanged for Grove’s first Scotland shirt but the rising starlet admits that might not have been the case if Andy Robinson had adopted the ‘Fortress Scotland’ policy employed by former Scotland coach Matt Williams.
He said: “There are quite a few exile players who the coaches have made the effort to come down and see.
“Graham Steadman is the defensive coach and he has come down to training while Andy Robinson has also come to see me in a couple of games – there is a big difference in watching a game on DVD and seeing people live.
“It is reassuring to know you are in their thoughts and they communicate their ideas to you.
“I am pleased how games went for me in the autumn.
“Now I need to be playing consistently well ahead of the Six Nations. The coaches have made clear they will be picking on form.
“Andy Robinson made it clear to me on the Scotland A tour that was no pressure for me to play for either Glasgow or Edinburgh and that is very reassuring.”