Lineen back to where it all started

HOMECOMING: Former Bombay and Counties Manukau winger Terry Brooke, left, welcomes his former team-mate, Scotland Under 20s coach and the original Kilted Kiwi Sean Lineen, back to the club.
HOMECOMING: Former Bombay and Counties Manukau winger Terry Brooke, left, welcomes his former team-mate, Scotland Under 20s coach and the original Kilted Kiwi Sean Lineen, back to the club.

Scotland Under 20s coach Sean Lineen will always be known as the original Kilted Kiwi but the Bombay Rugby Club will never let him forget where he came from.

The New Zealand-born 29-test Scotland international played for the club between 1984 and 1987 before he set off for the land of haggis and bagpipes.

Lineen, who also played 78 games for Counties Manukau, was invited back to the club while his side is in Auckland for the IRB Junior World Championship.

"Initially it was just for a visit but I thought maybe we could have a bit of a run out against them, do a bit of unit work, get the boys used to New Zealand rugby and have a hangi afterwards," Lineen said.

The visit sparked his memories of Bombay claiming the McNamara Cup in the final against Manurewa in 1985 but also reminded him of some big matches he played in Pukekohe.

"I played against the [British and Irish] Lions in 1983 for Counties and then I ended up meeting up with some of them when I played in Scotland like Ian Paxton and John Rutherford, who are good mates of mine now."

He said when he left for Scotland in 1988, he was not expecting to play international rugby.

He played for Boroughmuir but it was the opportunity to do battle with a traditional foe that set up his international debut.

"I got given the chance to play for Edinburgh against Australia and I was not going to turn that down being a Kiwi boy, " he said.

"I played OK and then they found out that I had a Scottish grandfather and I didn't even know."

He made his test debut against Wales at Murrayfield in 1989.

His four years with the national side coincided with one of the golden eras of Scottish rugby.

He was a key part of the team, which included Scotland legends Gavin and Scott Hastings, David Sole and Finlay Calder, that claimed the 1990 Five Nations' Grand Slam - the nation's third and last Grand Slam.

Lineen said winning the Five Nations was "absolutely brilliant" but it was the side's tour to New Zealand in the same year that stood out for him.

"We came very very close to beating New Zealand - 21-18 was the final score at Eden Park, " he said.

After he retired, he worked his way up the coaching ranks to become assistant coach of the Glasgow Warriors in 2003 and three years later was promoted to head coach.

In 2012, the Scotland Rugby Union reappointed Lineen as its head of player acquisition and coach of the Under 20s team, a decision that puzzled many rugby experts.

But he said he was fine with the move and was enjoying his job.

As part of his role he has been keeping a close eye on talented New Zealanders who could mirror the move made by players like himself, Glen Metcalfe, John Leslie, Brendan Laney and most recently Sean Maitland and represent Scotland.

"We are always looking for Scottish- qualified players but they have to be the right ones, " he said.

"For every Sean Maitland there are 10 [Kiwis] who do not make it.

"There is a couple of guys we are looking at in the [NPC], but my focus now is the Under 20s and making sure Scotland do as well as we can."

His side had it tough after going winless in the Under 20s Six Nations but he was confident the young group would perform better in New Zealand.

"We are not just here to make the numbers up, we want to win games.

"There has been a lot of hard work within the squad and they have a lot of heart."

The Press