He has been operating in the shadow of Ali Price for a while now but Glasgow’s Henry Pyrgos reminded everyone just what he brings to the party against the Cheetahs on Friday night.
The scrum-half has a happy knack of scoring important tries. He managed one in the Pro12 final when Glasgow won the title back in 2015 and he scored one of the two tries in the final ten minutes of the Cheetahs’ match that kept Glasgow’s Pro14 winning streak intact. And it was a belter, Pyrgos swapping passes with another scrummy, Niko Matawalu, before diving over the try line.
“It is great to have him back in the squad,” says Pyrgos when asked about the little Fijian.“It was great to score and he just makes things happen. He is an extremely dangerous runner and he brings another dimension to our squad, especially late on in games, when he comes on full of running – he puts fear into the opposition.
“We know what it feels like because you feel it in training. He brings us something a bit different and, as we’ve seen in the past, that can be vital in close games.”
There is no rest for the wicked or for professional rugby players. Glasgow arrived home from South Africa yesterday after flying overnight and they will be straight back on to the training paddock today ahead of the opening match in the European Champions Cup against Aviva champions and current league leaders Exeter on Saturday.
Glasgow may be tearing up trees in the Pro14 but Pyrgos, pictured right, knows that counts for nothing once the European Cup gets under way. The opposition will go up a level along with the physicality and the intensity. European rugby is a different beast, there are no easy matches and Glasgow’s winning streak thus far will count for zip.
“It’s great to be top of our pool and to have built up a few wins but to be honest it doesn’t count for much now,” says Pyrgos. “We’re looking ahead to an exciting competition and there’s no doubt that winning regularly gives you confidence and breeds confidence through the squad, but these European pools are very tough and Exeter are a quality team so we know we have to step it up again this week and the next week.
“But that’s the really exciting challenge. You have to be excited looking at another high-quality group and as soon as the bodies recover from the travel back from South Africa I know boys will be wanting to get into each other at training.
“There is a huge competitiveness in our squad, with a lot of guys playing for positions, and as much as that has been building through the season I think it will go up a notch with the European games now here.”
Despite that winning streak, Glasgow haven’t always impressed with their rugby this season but no one can gainsay the collective will to win generated by the Warriors. They have become “sticky”, staying in games and staying competitive largely through their nuggety defence even when other aspects of their game are a little shaky. The eight tries they have conceded this season is the best defence in the UK. “I think we have had a lot of that this season,” Prygos concedes when the “sticky” subject is raised.
“The Munster game was a really good performance but in the other games we haven’t put in that 80-minute performance and so we’re still pushing each other to get there. But on the flip side you learn in games like that how to stay in it, how to keep it tight when things aren’t necessarily coming off; keep your composure. That gives us confidence. We’re fit and we know how to win. There are areas we can get better and improve on but we have become a team, whoever plays, that is always hard to beat and very hard to put away and we take a lot of confidence from that.”
The last time Glasgow were pooled with Exeter they beat the English club home and away, but that was four years ago and both teams have come a long way since then.