HOW well does the BT Premiership prepare a player for the Test-match intensity of the European Champions Cup? Greg Peterson looks set to find out, writes Lewis Stuart.
The Australian-born USA lock has been out in the cold at Glasgow Warriors this season, keeping himself in shape playing for Marr, which he now regards as his second club, but is almost certain to be thrown into the side to face Leinster in Dublin this weekend.
It will be only his second start of the season – his first was last week, at Zebre – but with injuries to rivals and places to be won in the side when the Scotland players are on Six Nations Championship duty, it is a chance he has to grab.
“I would like to think we would get some more minutes, but you never know,” he said. “Dave [Rennie, the head coach] came to see me a couple of weeks ago and said ‘you will get this shot, it is pretty much up to you if you want to hold on to the jersey or not’.
“It’s just a case of trying to get game fitness. It is exciting, you grow up with Leinster, Munster, those big European giants and it is always great playing against them.”
The statistics are intimidating. In the six years since they last won at the RDS in 2011, Glasgow’s only positive result has been a solitary draw, losing every other time they have played there in run-of-season or knockout games. They lost 34-18 to the same opponents in Glasgow, too, conceding a try-bonus point while Leinster have a 100 per cent winning record in this year’s Champions Cup.
For the players, the rewards for a good performance could be huge, since a large swathe of the Warriors squad will be involved with Scotland’s Six Nations campaign, so there is the chance of a run of games, which could let those who have had restricted opportunities make an impact.
“The team was performing and they did not need me,” Peterson accepted. “I was happy to put on the bib jersey and help them prepare. It’s a bit of a pride thing but it’s also the case that we’ve let the fans down this European season. We want to prove those games were a hiccup, so we want to put our best foot forward. This team will probably roll through the Six Nations.”
There is an added incentive for Peterson too. A run of games would make sure he keeps his spot in the USA team and he is desperate to take on his current club mates at Glasgow when the Scots travel to America on their summer tour.
“I can’t wait, it’s going to be a tough match,”he predicted. “The November Tests put us [USA] in good stead. I think [the Scotland Test] is going to be in Houston. It’s probably going to be hot as hell and neither me nor the Scotland boys are going to be used to it.”