Peter Horne keeps it in the family when it comes to rugby, and they were the first to know when he won the prized Scotland 10 shirt for tomorrow’s RBS 6 Nations match against Italy.
Dad Garry, head coach at Howe of Fife RFC where Peter started in the minis, and wee brother George, currently Scotland’s Under 20 scrum-half getting rave reviews, are never slow to give their views on how Peter performs, and now they’ll get to see him start for Scotland for the first time and on home soil for the first time.
He’ll do so at 10, covering for the suspended Finn Russell after his Glasgow Warrior team-mate’s suspension was upheld at appeal this week. It meant that the decision was made just yesterday morning and Horne only had time to text the news to his family before he rushed out for yesterday’s training session.
“I haven’t looked at my phone since then, I can’t imagine what it’ll be like now with messages,” said the 25-year-old, preferred to Greig Tonks after two accomplished performances for Glasgow in the PRO12 in the last two weeks in the playmaking role.
“It was clear that if Finn was cleared he was going to play so we hadn’t really talked too much about the scenarios,” he said. “Vern (Cotter) said it was going to be a decision based on what he thought was best for the team and it would be made on Wednesday night. So it was only this morning we found out.
“When the news came through about Finn there was obviously a little excitement. Me and Greig are rooming together and we talked it all through last night, but I was thrilled to get the news this morning.
“It’s obviously really tough on Finn and you don’t ever like to see your mates getting banned. He is a good friend of mine and I think it’s been really harsh on him. But I can’t go into the game worrying about that kind of thing. An opportunity has come up and I need to go out and make the most of it.”
Although he’s played for a number of clubs – including Melrose, Dundee HSFP and West of Scotland – Peter is very much a Howe product, a member of the Bell Baxter HS Scottish Schools Cup winning team of 2007 and the outstanding youth system long established at the Fife club. The whirlwind of the decision and straight on to the training paddock hadn’t given him much time to settle into the idea of playing at BT Murrayfield in a national shirt for the first time.
“All my caps have come away so far so I’m really excited to be playing at home, and all the family are coming,” he continued.
“I’m really looking forward to phoning and having a chat with Dad. He’d like to think he was my biggest mentor, and I certainly wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him.
“I speak to him a few times a week and it is funny hearing his perspective and what he thinks I should be doing. He’s been great all along.”
Brother George, six years his junior, isn’t shy about handing out tips and advice either.
“He is so refreshing,” said Peter. “Whenever we go home to Cupar our weekends revolve around having competitions, whether goal-kicking competitions or whatever. He has always been better than me at drop kicks, so I get lessons off him.
“He is absolutely buzzing at the moment. He’s done really well since he moved to 9 for the Under-20s and he’s loving every minute of it. It’s nice picking up the phone to him and hearing his excitement.
“He is a brave kid, he’s grown up with me and Chris (Fusaro) knocking lumps out of him. I think he is going to be a good wee 9, Chris Cusiter was speaking to me about him and being very complimentary.”
Despite being nominally Glasgow’s first choice 12, Peter’s made six starts at 10 for the Warriors this season he also filled at 10 for Scotland twice during the tour to South Africa in 2013 – and operates as a “10-style” 12 for the club.
“I moved around between 10 and 15 coming up with Howe, then Sean (Lineen) made me a centre when I got to Glasgow,” he recalled.
“The selectors talked to me in the summer about playing more 10. Obviously you don’t want to be a jack of all trades and master of none but I’ve had a lot more game time at 10 this season and am really enjoying it.
“At 12 I bring a lot of the qualities of a ten, I try to bring our wingers into the game. People will talk about the pressure I am under but if you look about the squad we’ve got some fantastic players all around me and they make my job easier.
“I am not in the team to set the heather on fire, I’ve got dangerous runners everywhere around me. Mark’s on fire at the moment, Hoggy has been making breaks left, right and centre with Tommy and Sean on the wings so I’m really looking forward to just giving these guys the ball and seeing what they can do.”