HE HAS a Cypriot surname from his father’s side of the family, a Scottish mother called Govan and grew up in England, but Henry Pyrgos has taken a very direct route to the Scotland starting XV.
Scotland coach Andy Robinson confirmed what most suspected yesterday when he said that plans to restore Rory Lawson to the Scotland side for the final autumn Test against Tonga were altered by Pyrgos’ performance against South Africa last week.
The 23-year-old came off the bench, made a break, enlivening the Scottish attack, and then scored a try by picking a superb line through the Scottish lineout to finish off a well-worked set-piece move honed on the training field. His first cap was off the bench against New Zealand only six days earlier and his reward for those displays is the No 9 jersey at Pittodrie on Saturday.
Robinson said: “Part of this is about seeing players and the opportunities that are there. Rory has been playing well for Newcastle, and the last time he was involved was against Argentina [in the 2011 World Cup], so I wanted to give him a chance, and let the new coaches see him play.
“With the way that Henry played he forced my decision and it was great that he did that. I thought that he did very well coming off the bench, and now we need to see him start, with different pressures.”
Pyrgos said: “I am thrilled and it has been great this week in training.”
Underlining the feeling in Aberdeen this week that we are witnessing something of a changing of the guard with a young spine of Stuart Hogg, Tim Visser, Matt Scott, Pyrgos, Richie Gray and David Denton preparing to face Tonga, Mike Blair produced the stat yesterday that this will be the first time since Bryan Redpath captained Scotland from scrum-half in 2003 that someone other than himself, Chris Cusiter and Rory Lawson have worn the No 9 jersey, and was quick to applaud Pyrgos.
Pyrgos, in turn, paid tribute to the support and guidance received from the experienced trio within the Glasgow and Scotland camps.
“Obviously, Rory and Mike are two quality scrum-halves,” he said, “and I’ve just been trying to do my best and improve every week, and it’s amazing that I’ve got this opportunity.
“This was never on my mind at the start of the season, so it was great to even get in the squad, to get on against New Zealand was amazing.”