George Horne has learned much from Greig Laidlaw, but it’s the learning on the pitch itself that really counts, believes the Glasgow and Scotland scrum-half.
George and Ali Price would seem likely to take their scrap for the number nine jersey for Glasgow over to the Scotland camp when it gathers for the Six Nations with the announcement before Christmas that Laidlaw is stepping down from international rugby.
The 24-year-old from Cupar has a fair bit of experience in a Scotland shirt already, with ten caps and five tries, including that hat-trick against Russia in the World Cup in Japan.
And that scoring rate matches his exploits for Glasgow, with a better than one-try-every-other-game record of 23 from 43 appearances – including a brace against Benetton on Saturday.
But Scotland thoughts have to be on the backburner for the next two weeks as Glasgow and Horne aim to refloat their Heineken Champions Cup campaign with wins over Exeter and Sale, the Gallagher Premiership leaders due at Scotstoun tomorrow afternoon,
“I wouldn’t say I’m thinking about Scotland any more, we are all just focusing on playing well for clubs at the moment and we’ll see what happens with the national stuff,” he said.
“Greig was great to have. He was a brilliant captain and a brilliant player for Scotland and it was great to learn off him. Ali and myself both learnt a lot from him.
“Because we are a very different kind of player I was able to learn from his strengths, game management first of all because he used all that experience and drove the team around the park.
“He is an excellent leader and that’s not just as a captain, but as a scrum-half as well. That comes from managing the game territory-wise and controlling the tempo with whoever is at 10. Little bits and pieces of picking up knowledge from Greig has helped me.
“With him stepping down the number nine shirt is open, but it could be one of a number of players. Henry is playing really well for Edinburgh and you’ve got Ali and me here.”
The other part of learning has been on the field this year, notably from the defeat at Sandy Park in the first game against Exeter when Glasgow fell away alarmingly in the second half.
“It is big games like these when you are under pressure that are the real tests,” continued Horne. “In that second-half in Exeter we struggled a bit to control the game.
“Getting another crack at them is going to be good fun and hopefully we can show we have learned from that and put in a better performance.
“It’s about playing in the right areas. They do like to kick the ball and play a territory based game. They’ve got a massive forward pack that will try to dominate up front, but we just need to play in the right areas and hold the ball for long periods of time and build pressure.”
The home defeat to La Rochelle means that the Warriors really need a bonus point win from their last home fixture of the pool, and a result similar to that when Exeter last came to Scotstoun, a 28-21 win where George delivered the scoring pass for three of Glasgow’s four tries – the other was a penalty try.
“We know it is going to be a tough game so we are going to have to score points and we are going to have to defend really well,” he added.
“Patience is massive especially against the defence like Exeter’s. They defend really well so it is probably unstructured play where the tries are going to come from. Holding on to the ball is key, trying to narrow them up and score out wide.
“We are going out to win the game first and foremost. We don’t need to go chasing tries straight away with loose passes. It will be holding on to the ball that will do the damage.
“In the back of our minds we know we probably need to get five points to have any chance of qualifying, but first of all we have to win the game.”