With Ali Price and Henry Pyrgos having been the only back-up scrum-halves to long-standing Scotland skipper Greig Laidlaw at the national squad’s recent summer camp it was obvious that Glasgow Warriors needed to recruit as they have if they are to remain competitive in both the Pro14 and Europe this season.
The return of will of the wisp Niko Matawalu was, then, a popular choice, but the emergence last season of George Horne, younger brother of midfield play-maker Peter, has only added to the domestic mix and as the senior Scot – he was born just a few months before the Fijian – Henry Pyrgos is capable of looking beyond the immediate threat to his own chance of playing in the biggest matches, to the bigger picture.
“It’s what you want for Scotland,” said the 28-year-old.
“We’re a small country in terms of player pool so it’s great that there are a lot of good nines at Glasgow and Edinburgh as well as a couple of guys playing abroad. Obviously individually you want to concentrate on yourself and get better, but it’s a good place for Scottish rugby. It’s probably why you’re seeing an improvement in the national team over the last couple of years, because there’s improvement in a lot of positions and scrum-half’s definitely one of them.
“We’ve got a lot of talented young guys who coming through who have done really well in pre-season and had a couple of opportunities in the early games as well and I’m sure they’ll continue to get that. It’s great for the squad and it’s really good to see it at Edinburgh as well with a lot of good young guys coming through pushing for places.”
It is also a situation that should allow the Scottish sides to remain competitive throughout the season, something they have struggled to do.
It seems no coincidence that when Edinburgh reached the semi—finals of the European Cup for the first time in their history five years ago, they also finished second bottom of the domestic Pro12, while Glasgow finally made their long overdue first appearance in a European Cup quarter-final this year, but effectively sacrificed what had become their regular slot in the Pro12 play-offs.
Pyrgos acknowledged that in what was coach Gregor Townsend’s last campaign there had been extra attention paid to Europe last season, but he believes there is no reason that they cannot be competitive on two fronts, even allowing for international calls.
“It is definitely something we can do,” he asserted.
“We put a lot of emphasis on Europe last year because it was something we hadn’t achieved ever and in Gregor’s time at the club as well. We just didn’t play well enough in the league when we needed to really.
“We lost a lot of games during the international windows and there were other times that we didn’t perform in the league. It does test the squad, but it can be done. You have to be able to be consistent which is something we’ll be striving for again. We’ve got a really tough group in Europe again, as it always is with 20 of the best teams and again in the league it’s going to be tough but we want to make the play-offs there and in Europe as well.”