Inverell Highlanders welcome three new Scottish recruits

Green machines: Simon Clarke, Calum Park, Robbie McLaren, Stephen Robson, Scott Houston, Nick Cumming and Ariki Wineti.
Green machines: Simon Clarke, Calum Park, Robbie McLaren, Stephen Robson, Scott Houston, Nick Cumming and Ariki Wineti.

Three new faces will feature among the Inverell Highlanders this weekend as they take on Narrabri at Rugby Park.

Hailing all the way from Scotland Calum Park, Stephen Robson and Robbie McLaren will have to adapt to much drier, warmer conditions.

Yet to secure a win this season, the Highlanders have taken advantage of a bye, resting injuries, and determined to break their loosing streak.

First grade coach Ariki Wineti predicted a hard game against Narrabri, bravely adding “no more excuses”.

“Narrabri have just come off a big win against Barraba who have been going pretty well, so we have to be on top of our game,” he said.

Wineti welcomed Park, Robson and McLaren from Cumnock Rugby Club.

“We’ve had guys that, through work commitments and family, have struggled to commit this year so it’s good to have guys that are here purely for rugby.

“They look like fit lads and have come off a good season over in Scotland so they’ll hit the ground running.”

Playing centre, second row and back row, Inverell’s newest recruits are expecting quite a fast-paced, highly intense game.

“Obviously back in Scotland it’s 10 degrees colder and a there’s a lot more rain so it’s a bit slower and more controlled,” McLaren said.

Inverell Highlanders first developed a rugby relationship with Cumnock back in 2001 when Simon Clarke ventured over to play.

Clarke played four seasons with the club and got on well with his fellow team mates who had young boys at the time.

“I played with Scott Houston’s father, when Scott was quite young but I told him he should come over to Australia and play one day with the Highlanders.”

Four years ago Clarke followed up on his long-standing word and gave a much older Scott a call.

“He came over to Australia and this is his fourth season with us.” 

Inverell’s Nick Cumming also ventured over to Scotland last year, playing a season with Cumnock.

“Scott knew these three boys and we invited them over to play with the Highlanders,” Clarke said.

Adapting to southern hemisphere rugby may prove challenging but the Scottish trio are ready to adapt and improve their skills.

“They’re also really looking forward to working with the junior club to help coach and support the younger boys.”

Pop down to Rugby Park on Saturday from 12.30pm to watch the women’s Highlanders, Reserves and First Grade take on Narrabri.