Ali Price is can’t wait to get “six weeks with my mates” in another closed Scotland camp bubble but does admit lack of a game time is a concern going into the Six Nations Championship.
The Glasgow and Scotland 9 helped his club team to a cathartic 23-22 win over rivals Edinburgh at Scotstoun in an eventful game. He doesn’t feel any trepidation at all about going back into an enclosed environment with the national squad.
“Personally I loved the autumn,” said the scrum-half, who will be named in Gregor Townsend’s squad this week.
“I’m really looking forward to it. There’s obviously guys with families that might be in a different boat.
“But as a guy that lives on his own, the fact that I can be in a secure environment around 30-40 of my mates, training hard and trying to get these games on…I really enjoyed that.
“Yeah, we’re limited as to movements, but so is everyone. The fact that I can go to the gym, the fact that we can train still and almost hang out. It’s a bit of a privilege, really.”
Back into the bubble
A strictly enclosed environment as in the autumn would appear to be necessary for the entire tournament. The French government are insisting they won’t allow cross-border competition in any other circumstances.
And the lack of recent games – Glasgow are set to be idle for the next three weeks – is a problem, admits Price.
“It does not help for performance, I’ve played one game in four weeks,” he said. “It does nothing for continuity or game sharpness.
“There is only so much you can replicate in training. As professionals we will turn up and train and put it in.
“Last week the game got called off ten minutes before kick-off but we were ready to play. That is all we can do at the moment.
“When these games are on we will make sure we are ready. We are pushing on now for this next batch, whenever that is.”
In the meantime, Glasgow have a lift from a victory that takes them off the foot of their PRO14 conference. It can also recalibrate their target for the rest of the season.
“We have aspiration as a club that we should be in that Champions’ cup, top half of the table debate,” he said. “At the moment we are not but all these games are crucial now.
“Looking ahead to the rest of the year we can use this as a massive springboard. We are not going to make the knock-out of this competition, that is pretty obvious. But we need to chase down that third spot to put us in a good position for next season so that is what we are looking at.
“We all know we have lost some key figures. It is not the same team. But at the same time we are representing a team that makes finals, knock out rugby. We are held to a standard.
“We have had long, hard conversations as a group since November. Since everybody has been back in as a group (we’ve talked about) the level we need to be at and what is not good enough.
“We should be expecting a lot more from each other. The attitude has been much improved and that showed (against Edinburgh).”
Impressed by Thompson
Price was also impressed by his young half-back partner Ross Thompson, making his first start for the club and winning man of the match honours.
“I thought he was excellent,” said Price. “His basic skills are very good, and he had a very good idea of how we were wanting to play. I thought he grasped the situation brilliantly.
“We shared the workload really well on where we played the game. He’s got a long future ahead of him if he continues playing like that.”
McInally seeing neck specialist
Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill said after the game there was no update on Stuart McInally, the likely starting hooker for Scotland, who injured his neck in a weights session last week.
“We’re waiting for him to see a specialist to see what exactly the issue is,” said the coach. “We’re hoping it’s not a long term injury but we’ll have to see.”
Scotland are already missing Fraser Brown, out for two months with a neck injury. Glasgow’s George Turner, despite an avoidable yellow card, had a decent game on Saturday and is next in line.
Edinburgh were also missing Ben Toolis, who pulled out with a recurrence of a toe problem. Scott Cummings, a first choice lock for Scotland in the Autumn, failed an HIA test but with no Glasgow games scheduled for the next fortnight has plenty time to recover.