There’s a more than a bit of Cupar in the Glasgow Warriors side tonight in Limerick as they aim to cement their position at the top of their conference in the Guinness PRO14.
Chris Fusaro is set to make his 150th appearance for the Warriors off the bench, entering an elite group of just eight players who have reached that milestone. And the 29-year-old is in the squad with both Horne brothers, also products of the Howe of Fife club, who start the match together at half-back against Munster.
Peter Horne and Fusaro both played for the Howe team that won the SRU Youth Cup and also – as Bell Baxter High – the Scottish Schools Cup in 2007. George Horne, still only 23, came along a little later, but all three have won caps for Scotland.
“Fuzzy (Fusaro) embodies everything that’s great about this club, he’s a true Warrior,” said head coach Dave Rennie. “He’s an influential man within the group, really popular, a high quality man.
“It’s also what he brings on the field. He brings a lot of edge; what you know you are going to get on the field is someone who’s really competitive and someone who’s really combative.
“He’s great around clean out, post tackle and so on. He’s on great form which is the reason he’s been involved in all but one game we’ve had this year and that (one omission) was down to a head knock. I am rapt for him to be playing 150.”
The Horne brothers have teamed up before for the Warriors, and for Rennie it’s an obvious move.
“They obviously know each other’s game well and Pete’s a calming influence on George, to stop him trying to tackle everything,” continued Rennie. “Pete will guide him through the game but they’re exciting players in their own right and we want to see how they go together.”
Rennie is slightly surprised to see both Peter O’Mahony and CJ Stander in the Munster side rather than rested for Ireland’s test in Chicago next week against Italy, but knows that winning in Limerick is tough enough anyway.
“I don’t know how strong a side either of those unions are going to send with bigger fish to fry in the following games,” he said. “We knew going into this that we’d been missing a few obviously but, we’re happy with the side in the field, we’ve pretty good depth and it’s good to come over here against a pretty much full strength Munster side and test ourselves.
“For us, Gregor (Townsend) has communicated really well with us. They obviously had a plan and it was pretty clear we were going to get about six back, so that’s fine.”
Munster have lost three PRO14 games already this year – all away from home – which gives the Warriors, with just one loss so far, an excellent opportunity to put some distance from the team many expected to be their premier play-off rivals.
“They’ve already dropped three games, so they’ll be really fired up for this,” continued Rennie. “‘It’s still so early in the competition, I realise that, but it’s clearly a big game for both teams.
“We understand the value of winning it. We have Ospreys next week and, if you win those, it gives us the chance to push further ahead.”
Glasgow (vs Munster, Guinness PRO 14 at Thomond Park, Limerick, ko 5.15 pm, live on Premier Sports 1): R Jackson; DTH van der Merwe, N Grigg, S Johnson, R Hughes; P Horne, G Horne; O Kebble, G Stewart, D Rae; R Harley, S Cummings; A Ashe, C Gibbins (capt), M Fagerson.
Replacements: K Bryce, J Bhatti, P du Plessis, G Peterson, C Fusaro, N Frisby, B Thomson, N Matawalu.