Every player pays lip service to the idea that rugby is a 23-man sport these days, the men on the bench as important as those who are starting. For most of them, in particular the outside backs, lip service is all it is. They really, really want to start.
For a player like a stand-off, for example, it is vital. The odd 20 minutes here and there does little or nothing to hone match skills or get you into the rhythm of making the big game-management decisions under pressure.
So it is no wonder that it is only now that Duncan Weir is starting to hit his true form this season after a run that has seen him start three of the last four Glasgow Warriors matches – he missed one when he came off the bench for Scotland against Wales – and six of the last nine. That kind of continuity is not just desirable for a player in his position, it is vital.
“It is nice having a run of games at Glasgow,” he said. “I feel I am moving onto the ball more fluently and just having that game time and knowledge of taking on defences I am moving onto the ball a lot better and I can read the defence.
“I have just enjoyed playing, attacking defences, leading the line. As a ten you need to boss the team around, get them playing in the right areas and make good calls from the setpiece. I feel comfortable in my role doing that so I am quite happy.
“When you have space to run in to, that’s your job, it’s your role. I have not done that in the past but since I joined the club it keeps getting better and better. Having a string of games helps me make the right decisions at crucial times.”
The problem for Weir is that he shares his fly-half duties at Glasgow with Finn Russell, who has won the battle to be first choice at both club and country. With the two top competitors for the Scotland spot at the same club something had to give.
In the end, it was Weir who blinked and was persuaded that the grass would be greener for him at BT Murrayfield and he will join Edinburgh in the summer.
It is a move that he is looking forward to, though first there is some unfinished business at Glasgow, where the weekend win over Cardiff Blues moved them to within striking distance of the top four with two games in hand over most of the team’s above them, including Edinburgh.
“I am here till the end of the season I am definitely aiming to retain this championship with Glasgow,” he said. “I have tried to catch as many Edinburgh games as possible and we played them at Christmas, so I did my analysis then. They are doing really well this year and I will get excited about them later.”
He was left out of the national squad against Italy, a mixed blessing since it cost him a cap but did mean another form-boosting 80-minute run against the Newport Gwent Dragons, and even a man of the match performance in Sunday’s win against Cardiff holds no guarantees that he will win his place back this week for the game with France.
He is philosophical. “You know they are going to be watching but you can’t let your head slip, you just have to play well and hope things come your way,” he said. “It is their call. I can only play when the chances come. I am happy with the Cardiff game now I am back in training with Scotland. The last four games I feel I am trying to improve.”