While Saracens’ illustrious roster is chock-full of household names – some of the best players on the planet – Glasgow may yet surprise them and us with the odd left-field selection for their European Champions Cup quarter-final.
Saracens’ spies will know all about Ali Price but they might not realise just how central to Glasgow’s game plan the scrum-half now is.
They know that Brian Alainu’uese is a big 140kg unit but Sarries may not understand that the lock brings great athleticism with it and they will know almost nothing about Nick Grigg who, this time last year, was in the Warriors’ academy and turning out for Stirling County in the BT Premiership. Last season he made one appearance for Glasgow and that was off the bench. This time out he has already made ten starts and another three as a substitute, helped by injuries to regulars such as Alex Dunbar, Peter Horne and Mark Bennett but justified by a series of mature performances that have seen him consistently break the opposition line.
Grigg, 24, flies below the radar in every respect. He is not only something of an unknown quantity to the European champions but he is also a small man thriving in a land of giants, a Lilliputian in a game of Gullivers. Oddly enough his 5ft 9in size, or lack of it, can be a bonus.
“When you are that small it is no longer a question of how you tackle the opposition, around the legs as always, but more, how does your opposition tackle you…especially in light of the new crackdown on any high challenge.”
Whether he starts on the field or on the Glasgow bench it has been a very promising season for the little Kiwi midfielder.
“It’s been an exciting season for me,” says Grigg with that distinctive New Zealand twang to the vowels. “I didn’t really expect to get as much game time as I have had but I am really glad to be given the opportunities. And I guess grab them by the neck and try my hardest which is all I can do, so I hope it keeps going.
“Last season I was in the academy and playing for Stirling County and I managed to get one game for Glasgow.
“So this year I wasn’t too sure how it was going to go but obviously it has gone the right way for me.”
Although a Kiwi by birth and upbringing – Grigg was in the academy of Super Rugby’s Hurricanes before moving to Scotland – he qualifies for his adopted country thanks to a grandfather from Ayrshire.
Thankfully the little man appears to have packed that Kiwi can-do attitude and brought it half way around the world because, if Grigg’s knees are knocking at the prospect of the European champions on home plastic, then he hides it pretty well.
“We know how good they are as a side,” says the centre. “We know how tough it’s going to be. This is my second year with the club and I believe we’ve got the culture, we’ve got the staff and the players to go down there and win on the day.
“If we put out one of our best – a good performance – then we’re going to win the game at the end of the day and I have confidence in that.
“There is always a buzz but I guess we have made history by making this quarter and everyone’s quite excited about it and we have a few more meetings throughout the week so [we’ll] make sure we have put 100 per cent into the week in terms of preparation. So there is a bigger buzz.”
Is he ticked off by press reports writing off Glasgow’s chances on Sunday against the favourites to retain the cup?
“People have their opinions but I enjoy personally proving a point and I feel that we can do it.
“Anyone can win on the day if the right team shows up.”
Glasgow have won on the road already in this campaign, twice, in Paris and Leicester so a trip to the Allianz Stadium to play Sarries should be embraced?
“Leicester and the Racing games, we played really well, everything we picked was crisp and fast, we played the high tempo, whip to whip, using the ball well.
“I believe that if we bring that again this Sunday we can win.
“I don’t think that we get overwhelmed or scared of the names and the players that they have. If you outwork your opposition players at the end of the day you will come out on top.”
The bigger the name, the further they have to fall?
“Yis,” replies the smallest man on the field.