Ali Price: I've had luck but I've earned my place
Check your hair. Obviously. Or, at least that is what scrum-half Ali Price did when he made his first start – his third cap – last month against Wales, though at least he was embarrassed enough to blush at the memory.
It was, after all, the culmination of a breakthrough year almost unrivalled in recent times. Twelve months earlier he had just signed his first proper professional contract and here he was not just playing in the Six Nations Championship but starting.
“It has been quite crazy, a bit of a whirlwind,” he admitted. “I had a bit of luck on the way to get into the positions that I have been in but I have worked hard and could not have asked for anything more. I tried to go out and play my game to justify being picked and loved every minute of it.”
True, he has had his breaks, with both Henry Pyrgos, his club rival, and Greig Laidlaw, the Scotland captain, picking up injuries at key moments, but plenty of players have had similar chances without taking them nearly as well.
“Anyone would be the same, you have to justify that you are being picked and put in performances to maintain your place,” Price maintained. “It is not my right just to play these games, I have to go out and prove that I deserve it.
“International rugby is a step up, the speed of the game is a lot faster and more intense; the physicality is greater.
“When I played in the Georgia game, just training with the squad meant that when I went back to Glasgow I felt that I maintaind the speed and everything that I had built up.
“That made the Glasgow games more enjoyable for me, I found more space and found I was getting to the rucks more quickly and was able to read the game better.”
He acknowledges that after less than a year of regular Glasgow Warriors games he is still learning – “I want to keep building on my strengths, I am a running nine who likes to keep the tempo high but I do feel that my game management has got a long way to go” – but now he knows he belongs at the highest level.
“I go into every game trying to outplay my opposite number,” he said. “At the end of the day he is just like me; another guy who plays rugby.
“You see names and all these guys who you have watched who are international players and all that but once I have played a game or so at that level I feel I can cope. It is just another guy I am opposite. I will try to outplay them and do my best for the team.”