SCOTT MACLEOD will join Japanese side Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers when his current deal with Edinburgh Rugby expires, writes Fiona Scott.
The 24-cap Hawick-born second row, who joined the Scottish pro side in January 2009, will help the club finish their regular Magners League season before moving out to Japan in the summer with wife Adele, daughter Braedyn, 3, and 10 month old son Hudson.
The 32-year-old lock forward said: “It’s been a very difficult decision to make, because Edinburgh are close to my heart and I’ve a lot of affection for the club, but the opportunity to go to Japan is exciting not just for me, but for my family.
“From a lifestyle and learning perspective, this will be great for us all.
“After the recent tragic events in Japan, I’ve been in regular contact with the Steelers, because clearly I would never do anything to expose my family to risk. I have a huge amount of sympathy for those who have suffered terrible losses, but I’ve been given the appropriate reassurances and as a family we’re entirely comfortable about going out there.”
MacLeod’s desire to immerse himself in his new club and environment has led him to make himself unavailable for Scotland selection at present, ruling himself out of the forthcoming World Cup campaign.
He added: “I’ve massive respect for the national team and for (Scotland head coach) Andy Robinson. He knows the massive pride I take in representing my country, but I’ve explained to him that I want to focus my energies on making a success of the move to the Steelers and he understands my position.”
Back in the Borders this weekend, two local teams have crunch matches at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Technically, Melrose can win the Premier League title on Saturday if they beat Dundee at the Greenyards and neighbours Hawick beat Glasgow Hawks at Mansfield Park.
If the high-flying Glasgow outfit topple the Teries, however, then everything will be put on hold till April 23 when Melrose host Ayr and Hawks take on Currie to decide the title.
As a result of the current state of affairs in the Premier League Melrose have requested that the Border League final, scheduled for Wednesday, April 13, be postponed till April 27. The decision will be made known today.
In Premier Group C, Kelso are now only five points clear of Kirkcaldy and the relegation zone, with each side having one game each left to play.
Kirkcaldy are away to Falkirk, who have not played for a month, and Kelso have a little matter of a short trip to Jed.
One point for Kelso will see them safe and Kirkcaldy need to score a bonus-point win at Falkirk. Points difference is no longer an issue. Kelso’s mastery of escapology over the past few seasons is about to be sorely tested on Saturday at Riverside Park.