Scotland may well have some new supporters in and around the Preston area during the upcoming Guinness Men’s Six Nations after Arron Reed’s first-ever call-up.
The 24-year-old winger was named in head coach Gregor Townsend’s 39-man squad for the tournament and will meet up with his new teammates for the first time next week.
The Chester-born flyer first played rugby at Tarleton RUFC in Preston at the age of nine and has turned out for the likes of Preston Grasshoppers and Sale FC over the years too.
He joined the Sale Sharks Academy aged 15 and has since progressed into the full squad and is now a first-team regular at the Salford Community Stadium.
Along the way, he represented England under-18s and 20s, but he has always known of his Scottish roots from his father and now he has decided to give it a go with Townsend’s men.
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While he was in the Sale Sharks Academy, he joined Kirkham Grammar School in Preston for his two A-level years and he made quite the impression there.
"Arron came to us for his final two years at school and his attitude was excellent from the start. You could see he had that work ethic and desire to do well,” Jonny Roddam, the current head of rugby at Kirkham Grammar, tells TRU.
"When he was at the school between 2015 and 2017. I was his PE teacher for two years while he was taking an A Level in the subject.
"I was also the forwards coach of the first XV at the time working alongside the then head coach Aled Trenhaile.
"Before Arron came to us, he had been a pupil at Standish Community High School near Wigan and because we have strong links with the Sale Sharks Academy, he came to us to finish his schooling and it was great to have him here.
"He was an absolute livewire for us on the pitch. He was explosive when he got the ball in his hands and he was very exciting to watch. Whenever he was in possession, you just always felt like something was going to happen.
"Arron made a good impression in the first XV squad during his Lower Sixth year and then the following year, when he was in Upper Sixth, he was made captain and at that stage, he was mainly playing 13 for us, but the explosive pace that I mentioned he had meant that he was probably always destined to be a winger.
"When he was at the school, it was a pretty successful two years in terms of our rugby and in his Lower Sixth, the team made it to the semi-finals of the Rosslyn Park Sevens which was a good achievement.
"That same year, there was a national schools awards and we were named Team of the Year, so when Arron was here he certainly made an impact rugby-wise.”
Over the years, Kirkham Grammar - whose rugby programme is still strong currently with the first XV getting ready for a national schools cup semi-final - have produced a number of England internationals including Alex Sanderson, Richard Wigglesworth and Kieran Brookes.
They would be delighted to add a Scotland international to that list and Roddam continued: “Arron has had such a good senior career so far from playing England under-20s to becoming a regular with Sale Sharks and we are very proud of what he has achieved.
???"It is not like a surprise, it is exactly where we wanted to be..."— Joe Harvey (@joeharvey34) May 27, 2023
Excellent chat with Sale's, by way of Wigan, speedster Arron Reed.
Plenty to sink your teeth into with the Final ahead this afternoon.
??? @TalkRugbyUnion | ?? @SaleSharksRugby https://t.co/hv6bnVVrp8 pic.twitter.com/PkibkS4YWJ
"Now with this Scotland call-up, there could be more exciting things ahead for him and at the school we will be watching closely and cheering him on.
"He is one of the Sale lads who spent time at Kirkham who comes back to see us when he gets the chance and a lot of the current rugby players at the school are inspired by him and go and watch the Sharks’ matches regularly.
"We are just really chuffed for him. He seems to take to new environments and challenges well, so there is no reason why he cannot thrive with Scotland given the chance.”
Reed is someone that Scotland have had their eye on for some time and he was perhaps the least surprising of the four uncapped players named in the squad alongside Exeter Chiefs loosehead prop Alec Hepburn, Leicester Tigers tighthead prop Will Hurd and Edinburgh Rugby’s back three man Harry Paterson.
"He brings real energy and he’s a player in form,” head coach Townsend said.
"He works hard on the field and he’s got outstanding pace. From my meetings with him over the last year or two, I believe he is someone who has got a growth mindset.
"From his feedback, he can’t wait to be working with an international squad and training alongside the wingers we have in our squad, so we’re looking forward to having him in our group."
One man who will certainly have been happy in recent days is Reed’s father, Allan.
"My dad is fully Scottish and he’s desperate for me to play for Scotland,” Reed said in a previous interview.
Forwards: Ewan Ashman (Edinburgh), Josh Bayliss (Bath), Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow), Andy Christie (Saracens), Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh), Scott Cummings (Glasgow), Jack Dempsey (Glasgow), Rory Darge (Glasgow), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Richie Gray (Glasgow), Matt Fagerson (Glasgow), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow), Alec Hepburn (Exeter Chiefs), Will Hurd (Leicester Tigers), Johnny Matthews (Glasgow), WP Nel (Edinburgh), Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh), Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh), Sam Skinner (Edinburgh), George Turner (Glasgow), Glen Young (Edinburgh).
Backs: Adam Hastings (Gloucester), Ben Healy (Edinburgh), George Horne (Glasgow), Darcy Graham (Edinburgh), Rory Hutchinson (Northampton), Huw Jones (Glasgow), Blair Kinghorn (Toulouse) Stafford McDowall (Glasgow), Harry Paterson (Edinburgh), Ali Price (Edinburgh), Cameron Redpath (Bath), Arron Reed (Sale Sharks), Kyle Rowe (Glasgow), Finn Russell (Bath), Kyle Steyn (Glasgow), Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow), Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh), Ben White (Toulon).