A BURNING desire to see their captain Al Kellock retire with a Guinness Pro12 winner’s medal around his neck is driving Glasgow on as a wonderful season approaches its crescendo, according to Warriors tighthead Mike Cusack.
After defeating Ulster at Scotstoun last Saturday to top the standings at the end of the regular term, Glasgow face the same opponents at the same venue this Friday evening desperate to secure their place in the final in Belfast the following Saturday.
When the season does end it will bring the curtain down on Kellock’s glorious decade with the club in which he has been the heart and soul of Glasgow’s rise to become one of the most respected club sides in the British Isles.
The skipper, who moves into an ambassadorial role with Scottish Rugby in the summer, was back to inspire a 32-10 win at a packed Scotstoun on Saturday and, after training at Ravenscraig yesterday, Cusack said: “I think providing Al with a big send-off is a massive factor.
“This is a great opportunity to try and win some silverware. The fact it is Al and Dougie Hall’s last season is a big driving factor for us to try to get across the line.”
The 30-year-old prop added: “Al is a good leader. He has the boys going in the right direction all the time. He is the focal point of Glasgow rugby and is such a good captain.
“He is always calm under pressure. You get the heat of the battle, but he retains his composure. When you are going out for a big game you feel that you want to follow him, stand alongside him and give it a good go.”
But Cusack insisted that everyone involved with the club deserves to get something tangible out of a season in which the Scotstoun outfit have made more strides forward.
“It would be great for everyone at the club. We have been working at it for a good few years now,” he added. “We have got to the final stages the last two years and we have a massive test this weekend against Ulster. Hopefully we can have another good performance like last week.”
Cusack came off the bench in the 52nd minute on Saturday and performed well as Glasgow lifted the tempo in the second half and secured the bonus-point win they wanted.
“It was good fun,” recalled Cusack. “It was good to get a bit of game time – I was definitely pleased with that. This week is going to be a massive test. No doubt, Ulster will be looking to come at us a bit stronger.”
Cusack may have another bench role on Friday but he said: “You always want to start, especially in the big games like semi-finals. But I haven’t been fit that long so it is really down to [coach] Gregor [Townsend]. I thought Rossouw [de Klerk] did well last week, and there are obviously Jon Welsh and Euan Murray.”
Cusack is relishing being back in the mix after a difficult two years. “This is a good part of the season to be feeling fresh,” he said. “It has been frustrating at times, picking up a couple of knocks and niggles along the way, but I am feeling good now.”
Cusack hails from Doncaster but has been in Scotland for four years now and would be eligible to don the dark blue if the call ever came. “A lot of the Scotland management come in to watch Glasgow so they are looking at all the Scottish players there,” he said. “There is a close link between Glasgow and Scotland.
“The first thing for me was to get back fit and able to play.
“To be playing for Glasgow’s great. If I play well there then you never know what might happen.”