After four successful years of over achieving, Bernardo Stortoni fast became a favourite with the Firhill faithful. But now it looks like it’s on to pastures new for the 34-year-old.
So who will fill his ankle length socks now? Who will be the master of the high ball? Who will make up for defensive frailties of Glasgow’s standoffs? Will somebody step up to enter the hearts of the Firhill faithful at fifteen in his absence?
Glasgow, at present, have a number of options:
Colin Gregor – The Glasgow Warriors man has been a jack of all trades and a master of none for the Firhill side He has played full back before and his kicking and ability to break is not in question. Opportunities at scrum half will be limited next season with the return of Chris Cusiter and the continued improvement of Henry Pyrgos. However, his defensive frailties might resign Budgie to perennial nearly man status for the Warriors.
Peter Horne – He has never taken the opportunities offered to him by Lineen (especially a nightmare he will want to forget against Llanelli) but he is still very young and the Warriors coaching staff may have seen something in him in training to offer him an opportunity to make the jersey his own.
Peter Murchie – A big presence who has also been deployed at centre, Murchie would add even more powerful running to the Glasgow back three. On signing the youngster from Bath, Lineen enthused: “He has the raw material we can shape into a special player”. Maybe this is his time?
Stuart Hogg – Captain of the Scotland under 18 team, mostly a stand-off Mr Hogg will see opportunities few and far between at 10 while Weir and Jackson continue to wrestle for the position. Could Stortoni’s departure open up a chance to impress for the Elite development player?
Colin Shaw – Almost the forgotten man, a lot of potential that seems to have near fizzled out. Has looked impressive on the wing but more unsure at full back. Also, from the stands at Firhill it appears as if he has had problems with his fitness and concentration. But at 27, it’s not too late.
So what other options are out there? Of course there is a whole world full of rough diamonds that Lineen and his team have unearthed in the past, but being a Scottish rugby blog, we will look at the Scottish possibilities.
It makes sense for the SRU to have all their players under roof in Central Scotland at either Glasgow or Edinburgh, they can make sure that internationals have adequate playing time. Then, a player like Joe Ansbro, who is undoubtedly capable, would be assured not to languish with few opportunities on the Northampton subs bench (or London Irish – ed.)
Rory Lamont – Having lost his place in the Scotland squad to the reliable Hugo Southwell, and no longer a young buck, Lamont may look to a return to Glasgow to force his way back into the Scotland team. He would provide more of an attacking threat than Stortoni and a chance to form a link with a number of present Scotland international backs may be an appealing option. It may become difficult for Rory to keep his head above the water while moneybags in France continue to spend.
Hugo Southwell – Would fit right into the safe pair of hands role vacated by Stortoni and would be a veteran in a Glasgow team set to be more and more focussed on youth. However, would he leave the glamour of Stade Francais for the Warriors?
Jack Cuthbert – Huge man, huge boot, huge talent – if given the chance he could be a very talented player for Scotland. He has, however, been keeping Nick Abdenanon out of the Bath team, so it is unlikely he would leave what he has at Bath for Glasgow.
However, to get a player even of Lamont, Cuthbert or Southwell’s stature, Glasgow would need something that they don’t have – money.
It feels like there was a time when a player like Euan Murray came available (international, British & Irish Lion, Scottish legend, career on the downward slope but would still do a great job) Glasgow or Edinburgh would have snapped him up, but that is no longer the case.
In that context, now even players like Lamont and Southwell seem almost pie in the sky.
At 34-years-old, it’s probably the right time for Stortoni to go, however, he will be missed greatly. What he provided was continuity throughout the times that Scotland were on international duty. While other leaders were away playing for their country, he could provide a sense of continuity.
If Glasgow do decide/are forced to go young at full back, that combined with an inexperienced stand off could be a dangerous mix. The Argentinian was an insurance policy for the failings of Dan Parks and he often acts as one for Ruaridh Jackson, this could be the Glasgow Warriors putting more faith in Jackson to step up as a leader or having no other choice.
But that can’t be guaranteed, so what about one more insurance policy?
Chris Paterson: Experienced, already under the employ of the SRU. It would serve in the SRU’s best interests to have an ageing but experienced head such as Paterson serving as a mentor, and an insurance policy to the youth of Murchie, Horne or Hogg at full back, as well as Jackson and Weir at stand off.
So, Glasgow Warriors fans, what is your answer to filling the hole left by Stortoni?