Price and Pyrgos ready to fill Laidlaw’s Scotland shoes – Gregor Townsend

February 17 2017, 10.45amUpdated: February 17 2017, 6.29pm
Syndicate Post image

Gregor Townsend reckons Ali Price and Henry Pyrgos are ready to step up and sooth Scotland’s pain following the loss of skipper Greig Laidlaw.

Scrum-half Laidlaw has been ruled out of the remainder of the RBS 6 Nations after injuring ankle ligaments in Sunday’s defeat to France.

The Gloucester half-back’s absence will leave head coach Vern Cotter with a major headache, with the Kiwi increasingly reliant on the 31-year-old’s expert decision-making and pin-point goal-kicking.

Price took over at nine when Laidlaw limped off at the Stade de France and will be favourite to start when Wales visit Murrayfield next Saturday.

But his Glasgow colleague Pyrgos could play his way into contention when Glasgow travel across the Irish Sea to face Guinness PRO12 rivals Ulster in Belfast on Saturday.

Whoever gets the nod, Townsend insists they will not let the Dark Blues down.

“I’m sure Henry is firmly in their thoughts,” said the Warriors boss, who takes over the national team this summer. “He’s been out injured but played well last week against Scarlets.

“He’s our captain so he will have lots of involvement in the game to prove he’s match fit and ready to go.

“He and Ali are different players. Ali has played consistently well this season. He’s shown confidence and physically has looked really good.

“With the work he has done with Mike Blair and the other nines, you can see the improvements he is making with his decision-making and his kicking game.

“Henry has been a key player over the last few years. Whenever we’ve attacked well he’s been the nine.

“I thought he started the season really well but had some issues with his knee. He’s over them now and I thought he looked good when he came on for the last 20 minutes against Leicester.

“He’s an excellent kicker, an excellent tactical player who operates at a high tempo.

“It’s a blow to lose Greig for Scotland, but to have these two players means at least we have good depth.”

Another player hoping to make his mark when Glasgow head to the Kingspan Stadium is Peter Horne.

The utility back – rewarded with a new three-year deal on Friday – will make his return after two months out with an ankle knock.

And with three games remaining in this year’s Championship, Townsend is refusing to count him out of Scotland contention.

He said: “He’s one of our leaders, one of our most experienced players and probably the hardest working player at the club.

“Could he make a late bid to be involved with Scotland? We’ll see. He came back at the same time last year, did well and within a couple of weeks was back involved for Scotland.

“He’s missed a fair bit of rugby this time, though, so it will be up the Scotland selectors and how well he does this weekend.”

Horne starts at fly-half against his side’s play-off rivals while Brandon Thomson will make his Warriors debut at full-back having joined the club last week on a short-term deal from the Stormers.

Mark Bennett – who will join Edinburgh in the summer – returns from international duty to start at centre.

Breaking:

    Cancel

    Sign up for our newsletter

    Fill in the form to sign up for the Courier newsletter

    Thank you. You have been successfully subscribed to our newsletter.

    Close