FINN Russell has applauded the re-signing of Henry Pyrgos as a key piece of business for Glasgow.
The scrum-half this week joined fellow Scotland international Tommy Seymour in agreeing a new two-year contract that will keep the duo at Scotstoun until 2017.
Russell, 21, has another year left on his current Glasgow deal and is understood to be keen on pledging his long-term future to the Warriors. The playmaker is also looking forward to building a special playing relationship with Pyrgos in the half-back axis both for club and country.
With Chris Cusiter’s departure for Sale last summer and Niko Matawalu’s heading to Bath at the end of the current campaign, there is no wonder that Russell was keen to praise his team-mate’s decision to pledge their future to Glasgow.
Their partnership has already developed into the preferred starting combination at No 9 and 10 in the majority of Glasgow’s ‘big’ games this season, and Russell is hoping that Friday’s visit of the Scarlets will once again see him unite with Pyrgos as Glasgow look to bounce back from the disappointment of losing the 1872 Cup to Edinburgh for the first time since 2009.
Russell said: “With Niko off in the summer it is great news that Henry has signed the two-year deal because it is vital that we retain an international quality nine at Glasgow.
“Speaking as a fly-half, for me it is really good to know that I can look to build my partnership with Henry going forward for Glasgow and, hopefully, with Scotland.
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“Henry and I have had a few games on the run and there is no doubt that the more games you play together the better the understanding gets. We have some big European games coming our way after the Scarlets fixture and then it is into the Six Nations and, hopefully, we will get plenty more game time together.
“I really enjoy playing with Henry and I feel like we are on the same wavelength and that is a great thing between a ten and a nine.
“As for Tommy, he has been on form all season and there is no doubt, when you get a player of his class re-signing on a new two-year deal, it is a boost to the squad and everybody at Glasgow.”
While the pain of losing the oldest silverware in club rugby to their nearest rivals still clearly lingers, Russell has revealed it has given his side extra motivation to despatch a Scarlets side who have already beaten Warriors this season.
He said: “Obviously we are hurting after losing the 1872 Cup for the first time in a few years and there is real fire in our bellies for the Scarlets game and we need to perform like that is the case.
“After the loss against Edinburgh it is vital we respond with a win against the Scarlets and the fact that they are coming to Scotstoun after beating the Ospreys makes this an even tougher game for us.
“But, you know, I don’t think it matters what the result against Edinburgh was. The game after it was always going to be a massive one for us, as it takes us into Europe and it’s vital both from a Pro12 point of view and building a positive platform back into the European Cup that we get the win we need. Scarlets may have struggled a wee bit away from home but last time out they beat the best team in the league [Ospreys] and they will fancy it on Friday and there is no doubt we will have to be at our best.”
Should he start at No 10 on Friday, which seems likely given the bicep injury that sidelined Duncan Weir from the defeat at BT Murrayfield five days ago, Russell admits that he can expect no favours from former Warrior John Barclay.
Russell said: “John Barclay will no doubt have a point to prove coming here and you know that, with a world class openside like John against you, that it is going to be tough to get away from him and play your best rugby,” admitted Russell.
“But, if selected, that will just help focus me all the more and maybe a few of our boys will be looking to prove a point to John with him coming back to his old club.
“There has been a lot of attention on the breakdown as the Scarlets are very effective in there and, of course, John Barclay, as we know, is a big part of that.
“There is no doubt that securing quick ball is going to be very important again on Friday and we will have to do everything we can to make sure John doesn’t enjoy his return to Scotstoun.
“The bottom line is that, after the Toulouse defeats, we came back and beat Munster and then backed that up by winning against Edinburgh at home and now we need to respond again after losing at Murrayfield.”
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