Most rugby players get a look of fear in their eyes when the term “pre-season” is uttered, but Glasgow Warriors’ Greg Peterson is loving putting in the hard yards after a frustrating 2016/17.
The USA internationalist signed for the Scotstoun outfit from Leicester Tigers in summer 2015 and had a good first season. Then the second row was forced off in an early season loss to Ulster last term and was ruled out for six months with a shoulder injury.
He returned to action in March for draft club Glasgow Hawks and then made fleeting appearances for the Warriors towards the end of the campaign.
Having signed a new deal midway through 2016/17 to keep him in Scotland until at least May 2019, he really wants to hit the ground running when friendlies begin in August.
And with Jonny Gray out for an extended spell, Peterson, Tim Swinson and Brian Alain’nuese are likely to be key for Dave Rennie’s side in the second row with young players Scott Cummings and Kiran McDonald snapping at their heels.
Peterson, 26, said: “Training has been pretty tough, as you’d expect, but I am loving it. I haven’t done a full pre-season in a couple of years – I’ve avoided it due to injury or swapping teams or World Cup campaigns, so it’s actually been really good to get up and running.
“You’ve swapped out both the forwards and backs coaches [with Gregor Townsend and others going to Scotland] so of course there’ll be some change to the things we are doing. Kenny Murray [assistant coach] is still there so we’ve got that consistency, and George Petrakos has pretty much taken over the strength and conditioning side until Phil Healey gets here.
“All of the coaches have done a really good job – they’ve stepped up and want to run the systems and we’re all benefiting from that on the field.
“The last pre-season I had was back at the Waratahs, and that was pretty gruelling, it was six days a week for 12 weeks and it mentally broke me.
“This one has been great though – it’s been a balance between the science and the work on the field. We’re seeing the results and our bodies constantly improving throughout the process.
“I think George has done an excellent job, and the fruits will come to bear soon. ‘Chico’ [Francisco Tavares] has also brought in the boxing sessions on Tuesday afternoons, which is different.”
As mentioned Peterson is one of a number of quality second rows at the club, so many in fact that Scotland under-20 captain Callum Hunter-Hill has had to move to Edinburgh Rugby in search of more game time.
However, the man who played against Scotland in the 2015 World Cup embraces the competition.
“Competition breeds excellence. In the second row, we’ve got some international stalwarts like Tim Swinson and Jonny Gray around, so with myself, Scotty Cummings and Brian Alain’nuese there as well it makes everyone perform better,” he stated.
“There’s been that missing element with the international boys away, but the Academy and under-20 boys, as well as the rest of the senior players, have created a really tight-knit group. The under-20s did really well, and they’re like little sponges soaking up all the information.
“I am just looking forward to getting into games in a few weeks because it’ll re-affirm everything we’ve been doing over the past two blocks of training.
“When Dave Rennie arrives [after his Super Rugby commitments] and tells us we’re working in the right direction, that’s what we want to hear.
“It’s been a bit awkward, having 30 or 40 blokes crowded around Skype with him as the big, ominous face on screen.”