Scotland under-20 prop Zander Fagerson is looking to make the most of his Guinness Pro12 opportunities with Glasgow Warriors during this World Cup period – starting this weekend in the opening match against the Scarlets.
With 20 Warriors players – 16 with Scotland and four with other nations – away at the showpiece event in England and Wales over the next two months there are going to chances aplenty for fringe players and the up-and-comers to make their mark at Scotstoun.
And 19-year-old Fagerson could certainly be one to watch out for, with Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend known to rate him highly.
New forwards coach Dan McFarland has also been impressed with the age-grade cap in pre-season and although he is still young Fagerson has the raw talent that could see him go a long way in the game.
His journey in rugby began at the High School of Dundee, followed by Strathallan School, Glasgow Hawks and then the pro side as a development player last term.
He then played for the under-20s in the Junior World Championships in Italy over the summer and then, after three weeks of rest and relaxation, was back into training at Scotstoun ahead of the most important phase of his fledgling career.
“I really enjoyed the World Championships and since then I have been getting myself fitter, faster and stronger,” Fagerson said.
“I have had a good pre-season with the Warriors, I had to do a bit of catch up on the fitness side of things, but now I am at the same level as everyone else and cannot wait for the season to start.
“It is a massive opportunity with guys away at the World Cup. There is a lot of competition at tighthead, but if I can perform my roles and do my job well then hopefully I can push on and cement a place in the team.
“Three or four of us are quite level [in terms of selection in that position] and everything in training counts and everything is being noted. Gregor has not spoken to me at all about rotation policies, but I will just take my chances when they come and the best player will play.
“I am feeling fit and strong so as a young prop I just want to play as much rugby as I can. As a young player I will make mistakes, but I will learn from them and that will make me a better player in the long term.”
People often say that a prop is always learning and Fagerson has certainly learnt from some of the best in the past 12 months.
He said: “I loved having Euan Murray here last season, obviously he is a Scotland international and a Lion and at his peak was one of the best tightheads around.
“Also Jon Welsh, Mike Cusack and all of the other more experienced guys have been really good with me and supportive.”
With those 20 big names away in the various pre-World Cup camps, some would say the pressure is on Fagerson and co to get the Warriors off to a winning start on Saturday evening at home.
Fagerson, who moved to prop from No 8 aged 15, said: “Being Pro12 champions there is certainly pressure on us, but we’ve had a great pre-season and all the boys have worked really hard.
“A few years back [2012/13] the first game at Scotstoun was against the Scarlets and we lost that so, hopefully, we’re not going to do that this time. We want to start with a bang.”