It has been a festive tradition the last few years that Glasgow boss Dave Rennie opens his doors to the foreign players who are apart from their friends and families at this time of year.
The New Zealander now embarks on his final few months as head coach at Scotstoun before leading Australia into a new decade, but there was one last chance to break bread and toast the season at his Stirlingshire home before an ultimately disappointing 29-19 loss at Edinburgh on Saturday.
Rennie will move on but 27-year-old loosehead prop Aki Seiuli plans to stay and make a real impact in Scotland.
The 6ft, 19 stone Kiwi, who joined Glasgow last summer from Otago Highlanders, looks sure to be a formidable force in the years to come but is currently finding his feet in a new country,
“We were over at the coach’s house [at Christmas]. He had a few of the boys over. The boys who don’t have family over here, so that was quite nice. He didn’t give us presents, though, I wish,” said the front-row forward with a chuckle.
A fifth Guinness Pro14 loss of the season against their inter-city rivals, who levelled up the three-match 1872 Cup, has left Glasgow in a tight spot and a realisation that some serious buckling down in January is required ahead of the Six Nations period.
“It would have been good to have got the win against Edinburgh but we know that each game is going to be crucial for us so I guess that as a team, we’ve just got to take it step by step and focus on what we can get better on and control the controllables,” said Seiuli.
“I think we need to be better with our discipline and executing our gameplan. In the setpiece, I felt like there were no contested scrums [against Edinburgh], the decision was made before the scrum was in really. So there were a couple of crucial calls on that. That’s just my opinion.
“We’ve just got to take it week by week and focus on this weekend coming up [a trip to face Benetton in Treviso]. I guess it’s challenging but the boys will look forward to that challenge and I’m sure we’ll step up to the challenge.”
Seiuli played 38 times for the Highlanders in Super Rugby after first receiving a call-up as injury cover in 2014. After suffering a knee injury that ruled him out of the 2019 Super Rugby season, he returned to action for the Otago provincial side in last year’s Mitre 10 Cup.
He was a member of the Highlanders squad that defeated the British and Irish Lions in 2017, coming off the bench alongside future Warriors team-mate Siua Halanukonuka.
Seiuli said that, while struggling a bit understanding the Glaswegian accent, he is adapting to life in the northern hemisphere,
“There’s a lot of setpieces back home. We love our setpiece but we look to get the ball out quick and play some fast, running rugby,” he said.
“I like to play fast and have the ball in hand. It’s a challenge getting my setpiece up to pace so I have found it challenging but I’m enjoying it and I’m getting better week by week.”