STUART Hogg has described his inclusion in the British and Irish Lions squad as “a dream come true”.
The 20-year-old has been named in Warren Gatland’s 37-man side to tour Australia this summer.
The former Greens starlet follows in the footsteps of other Hawick Lions including Tony Stanger, Colin Deans, Alan Tomes, Jim Renwick, Derrick Grant, Hugh McLeod, W. B. Welsh and D. S. Davies.
He said: “It feels amazing, it’s not really sunk in and I’m lost for words. It’s an absolute dream come true to be selected.
“All I’ve ever wished for is to play rugby at the highest level and now I’ve got the chance to do that which is unbelievable.
“I’ve played against a lot of the players in the squad at club level and internationally but now I’ve got the chance to play with them, which is amazing and I’m really looking forward to the challenge.
“I am looking to get a place in the team and a starting jersey. It’s going to be really tough but now that I’m there it’s all about working hard and this is where it starts for me.”
Hogg, who is one of three Scottish players in the squad alongside Sean Maitland and Richie Gray, still has a championship to win with Glasgow Warriors before the plane leaves at the end of next month. The full-back, a stand-out performer for Scotland during this year’s Six Nations campaign, will be battling it out with Leigh Halfpenny and Rob Kearney for a starting spot, with the first Test in Melbourne on June 22.
But assistant coach Rob Howley admitted Hogg’s versatility could be key.
He said: “We’ve been really impressed with Stuart Hogg. He’s got a huge X Factor about him – he can play full-back and 13 and 10 as well. There’s something about the magic of the jersey, throwing someone in and I think there’s an opportunity for him to cover 10.”
While fellow coach Neil Jenkins added: “Hooky (James Hook) four years ago played in a lot of games in a lot of positions and I’m sure Hogg is going to do the same.”
As the youngest player in the squad – Hogg turns 21 on June 24 – the Teri will take charge of Lions mascot BIL throughout the tour.