Keep Your Friends Close…

Furore (noun): a general outburst of enthusiasm, excitement, controversy, or the like.

Example: This Rory Lamont is causing a bit of a bloody furore!

Everyone is getting into a bit of a tizzy over Lamont’s valiant, if somewhat capricious, return to Glasgow. Suddenly the chat from the proclaimed Warrior Nation has turned to how Lemi, Lamont and a fit again DTH Van Der Merwe could possibly become one of the most dangerous back threes in the Pro12. Everyone knows that the team have been scoring at a poor rate but maybe, just maybe, they can keep winning and score lots of tries.

It is as amusing as it is exciting. Thought for years to be Scotland’s second team the SRU have recently made funds available to sign new players and add top competition experience to this young Glasgow side. It almost looks like SRU CEO Mark Dodson has donned a fur-lined red coat and pointed his quill westward.

Of course as Lamont drives through the snow to enter the Scotstoun training ground –flashbulbs popping as he collects Glasgow kit issue at the door –others are keeping their heads down and getting on with it. “I’ve gotten consistency from playing games,” young full-back Stuart Hogg tells me, demurely, “but I also have good people surrounding me.

“It becomes second nature. If selected it is just about composing yourself.”

Composure is something that one would not expect from a 19 year old signed on for a development contract this season. However, Hogg has been ever-present for the Warriors, playing in big wins against the likes of Bath and Cardiff away. He has very little firsthand experience of games like these so how does he remain calm? Taking an honest tone he lets me know.

“You just keep working hard. Look at the weekend. I didn’t play against Dragons, but we all drew a line under it. We drew that and we lost against Leinster away in the Heineken Cup before. In that game we started too slow in the first half and we gave away silly points. I think we gave them a 21 point lead! But then we played well in the second half. We showed how we can play. You just have to draw a line under it and move on.

“For me I can become consistent by playing and getting enjoyment under my belt. I’ve played more RaboDirect rugby and the physicality has been unbelievable. Now we go back to the Heineken Cup and everyone wants to win. There’s physicality; there’s speed; there’s unbelievable skill. Big Internationals.”

 You have certainly come on and played very well but what about, um, that noise in the background?

“From a team perspective it is fantastic. For me: your position is never settled. There’s competition everywhere and there are loads of wingers that can play full-back. There are centres that can play back there. I’m really looking forward to the challenge if I’m honest” –and here giggles spill out that neither of us expected, a by-product of the confidence that Hogg is uncovering, an assuredness that comes from giving youth a chance to express itself –“If my name is read out for this week I’ll be delighted but I’ll just keep training hard.

“Rory is an international full-back and a really nice guy. I hope we grow to be friends off the pitch…but I’m going to try and take that full-back jersey off him!”

He knows what he wants. He always had confidence, but now he obviously feels he can show that at this level. I was going to ask him if he would consider playing 13 or if that would best suit Glasgow now that Lamont is there but he has already answered my question by constantly talking about that coveted full-back jersey.  So I change tact and ask him if Lamont’s arrival has made him press for a full contract.

“I’m hoping for a pro contract sooner rather than later, but at the moment I will have to take everything week by week. First we’ve got this double against Montpellier in the Heineken Cup…”

So if it’s week by week you won’t have given too much thought to those saying you should at least be able to train with the 6 Nations squad because of your current form?

“Someday, maybe…”

For now he is ignoring the furore and letting others talk about a contract behind closed doors. He has a Heineken Cup double to work for and after that an 1872 Cup series with Edinburgh to look forward to. Glasgow claim that the “initial allocation[of 1872 tickets] has been virtually exhausted”.

If this upstart full-back gets his chance in those games in front of a large Scottish crowd and impresses then maybe he could find himself on the back pitches of Murrayfield someday soon. Alongside his new mate Rory.

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Dundonian Alan has played rugby all over the world for various teams including Dundee High School, Heriot's and the Scottish Club International. Now writing from London he covers all issues international and unreported.

One comment on “Keep Your Friends Close…

  1. MJW on

    Never mind Roray Lamont, I’m looking forward to the duel between Hogg and Tom Brown at Edinburgh for the Scotland 15 shirt. Should be quite a battle in a few years time!

    Shame he’s not thinking about playing in the centres – if only DTH was fit, he’d slot in pretty well at 13.

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