GIVEN he was born and raised in Dunfermline, with a rugby tutoring at Edinburgh, Scotland representative honours under his belt and the sound of his very name alone, you would think Stevie McColl was as Scottish as they come.
However, the Yorkshire Carnegie full-back is not afraid to admit his affinity with the Broad Acres is now just as strong.
Having initially come to prominence with Doncaster Knights in the Championship, he is back for a second spell at Headingley after re-joining from Premiership side Gloucester this summer, looking to bring his stellar attacking game to Bryan Redpath’s promotion hopefuls.
Ahead of tomorrow’s home fixture against London Scottish, when Carnegie seek to maintain their 100 per cent start, he told The Yorkshire Post: “Some of my mates say I’m more Yorkshire than Scottish these days and I think I probably am.
“I’d say I’m a proud adopted Yorkshireman!
“It was a no-brainer coming back. I enjoyed the experience at Gloucester – it was fantastic – but I didn’t play enough and when I did I was on the wing.
“I didn’t particularly enjoy the rugby as much as I’d have liked or as I did up at Yorkshire.
“So, I was more than happy to come back. My family was settled down there but my wife is from Doncaster so it’s good to be here and the kids are just starting nursery, too.
“It’s good to be settling down – with rugby and family it felt like the best decision and, to be fair, it feels like I’ve never been away.”
McColl, who made 16 appearances for Gloucester, scored a try on his ‘second’ Carnegie debut in the opening day 30-13 win at Ealing Trailfinders but has – frustratingly – missed subsequent victories over Nottingham (26-24) and London Welsh (22-23).
“I suffered a back spasm in the training run ahead of that game with Nottingham,” he recalled.
“We’d broken up for backs and forwards and we, as backs, tend to just do some passing and kicking.
“But I just went to readjust my position to receive one and I felt this shuddering pain in my back. I wasn’t even passing, kicking or tackling.
“It was a nightmare. I was looking forward to my kids and family coming up to watch my first game back at Headingley in two years and it got taken away like that.
“I’ve had to be patient but, hopefully, things will go better for this Sunday.”
After four years at Doncaster, McColl initially headed up the M1 to Leeds ahead of the 2011-12 campaign but it was the following campaign when he really made his mark, his attacking brio seeing him named in the Championship Dream Team and also called into Scotland’s Six Nations training squad.
When he scored nine more tries in 16 games during 2013-14, Gloucester were persuaded to make their move.
However, McColl is now hoping to finally get Carnegie – Championship semi-finlaists last term – into the Premiership to join his former employers.
“We’ve just been saying we don’t feel like we’ve fired on all cylinders yet,” said the 28-year-old.
“We’ve had some great results: going down to Ealing is not an easy task, while beating Welsh last week especially was good as they will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.
“We beat Nottingham, too, who had a good win over Scottish so there’s three games we potentially could have lost but have come out as winners. We’ve had injuries, too, but players who probably weren’t expecting to be playing yet have stepped in and done great so we’re all looking forward to continuing on Sunday.”
Scottish will be buoyed after securing their first victory of the campaign–- last Saturday’s 31-30 success at Rotherham – having lost narrowly at Nottingham on the opening day and then feeling the full force of London Welsh 36-9 at home.
“I think Rory Clegg’s in line to play this week, too,” said McColl, about the former England Saxons fly-half who had a six-game loan spell at Headingley from Harlequins in 2013.
“He’s back at Glasgow Warriors and so they may be using him. Scottish have been trying for four or five years to get the link working with the Scottish RU but it’s never really happened.
“There’s been fall-outs but it looks like it is sorted now and the Scottish RU are going to use it properly so that guys not getting game-time at Glasgow, let’s say, can come down to the Championship for a couple of months and get some good rugby under their belts
“They’ve Sean Lineen as director of rugby, too, who was head coach at Glasgow Warriors.
“Our prop Michael Cusack played under him there and says he is a classic coach so I’m sure they will be tough.”