Glasgow head coach Dave Rennie has admitted that Peter Horne is a candidate to fill the stand-off void when Finn Russell departs for Racing 92 next season.
The Kiwi has named Horne at No 10 for this afternoon’s European Champions Cup clash away to Montpellier, with Russell on the bench. With Glasgow effectively out of Europe following last Friday’s home defeat to Vern Cotter’s side, a third straight loss in Pool 3, Rennie views today as an opportunity for Horne to show the SRU head honchos that they don’t necessarily need to shell out for an expensive replacement when Russell leaves.
Horne is a specialist inside centre but has also covered the stand-off position for club and country throughout his career.
“We were keen to give Peter Horne a crack at 10 in a really big game,” said the coach. “It’s a top tier, huge game for them, so it’ll be a real pressure cooker against one of the best sides in Europe and a chance for us to see Pete running the ship in that sort of game and that’s probably looking ahead, not just for the rest of this year, but beyond Finn departing.
“I’ve mentioned a number of times that I’m a big fan of the way Pete plays. He’s got a really good skill-set, he’s a real student of the game and he’s got an ability to challenge and demand of others, so it will be a really good match-up between him and Aaron Cruden.
“We definitely see him as a strong candidate for next year. Obviously Adam Hastings has gone well for us, we’ve got Brandon Thomson in behind them too, so whether we look to bring another 10 in as well we’re not sure at this stage, but it’s a great opportunity for Pete to make a bit of a statement in what we call a pressure cooker situation. That’ll impress the CEO no doubt.”
Rennie has made six changes to the side that lost to the French at Scotstoun but has still fielded fairly strong team and clearly wants to see his troops fight for some pride in a competition which has, in stark contrast with the perfect run in the Guinness Pro14, not gone as he would have wished.
Scotland centre Huw Jones, who made his debut last week, misses out after visiting a specialist in Leeds to assess a wrist problem which has been niggling him. Rennie expects him to be back for the first 1872 Cup match against Edinburgh at BT Murrayfield next Saturday but said it may be something which requires surgery in the off-season. Flanker Callum Gibbins is also out with an Achilles problem but should also be fine for next weekend.
Rennie said he had spoken to hooker George Turner after his costly yellow card last week for what the coach called a “dumb” off-the-ball tackle on Louis Picamoles which has resulted in a four-week ban.
“I won’t divulge the conversations we had around that. He’s pretty disappointed,” said Rennie. “He regrets the situation. There was a bit of frustration there because there was a lot of obstruction going on off the ball. I’m disappointed for him, but he will learn from it. In the end we still love him; he’s been great for us, one of our best players. I’d say he has learned a lesson.”
When it was suggested that four weeks seemed a harsh penalty for an incident which was more foolhardy than malicious, Rennie said: “Yes, I agree. If you compare it with the results that’s the questionable thing. The guy had to go in for an assessment but there was no head injury.
“If you bring the judiciary and you’ve got to understand that sometimes the punishments seem harsh and sometimes guys get off lightly. You’ve got to take it, but the key is not to put ourselves in that position.”
Fortunately both Fraser Brown and Pat MacArthur have recovered from concussion and hamstring injuries in time to avert what would have been an acute shortage at hooker.