He may just have signed what is believed to be the highest-paid playing contract in Scottish rugby history but Stuart Hogg insisted yesterday that money is not his prime motivator and the prospect of even greater riches was “easy” to turn down.
The 24-year-old will earn a reported £375,000 a year after extending his Glasgow Warriors deal until May 2019 but bigger offers are believed to have been on the table from France.
However, Hogg had no hesitation in this week pledging his immediate future to the club he has been with since he was 17 and is now fully focused on tonight’s European Champions Cup blockbuster against Leicester Tigers.
“If I was 29, 30, I would be looking for a pay day, I am not going to lie,” he told a media conference at Scotstoun yesterday. “But I am not in that situation. I am enjoying my rugby here at Glasgow. It is an exciting time to be part of the club and I am delighted to stay for another two years.
“There were offers coming in from elsewhere but we have been competing for trophies for the last six years I have been at the club. The decision was made easy. I am very settled at the club at Glasgow. Why leave?”
The full-back is Scotland’s most high-profile rugby player, even making the cover of Hello magazine with baby son Archie earlier in the year after he won the Six Nations Player of the Tournament award.
He and wife Gillian have another baby on the way and the Hawick man said the family aspect was a big part of the decision to stay in Scotland.
“That was a big, big part of it. I had to speak to the boss, Gillian, to see what her thoughts were. She was happy to stay in Glasgow.
“She has a good group of friends and her parents are only a couple of hours down the road as well. It would be tough to take her away elsewhere.
“We have a kid, another on the way and to take them away from the grandparents at that age might have been tricky. We are delighted to be staying.”
Rugby considerations were a major factor, too, and Hogg has met with Dave Rennie, the Kiwi who will become the Glasgow Warriors head coach when Gregor Townsend moves up to the Scotland job next June.
“He [Rennie] came over a few weeks ago and the leaders’ group met up with him to see what his plans were for his time here.
“It is exciting times to be part of the club but [there’s still] a lot of rugby before he comes in and we want to give Gregor a good send-off.
“I am well managed here and going into games fresh for both Glasgow and Scotland. I am only 24 and have a lot of rugby ahead of me so it is important I am well managed.”
Hogg was the youngest member of the British and Irish Lions squad in 2013 and is being tipped as a Test starter in New Zealand next summer, though any thoughts of that prospect are well to the back of his mind.
“My focus is purely on Leicester,” he said. “There is a lot of rugby to be played till the end of the season. I take it game by game and try and get the best out of myself.”
The news that Hogg is staying has created even more buzz around Scotstoun ahead of another big European night against English opposition and the full-back is relishing the contest.
He said: “We have never quite achieved what we set out to be in Europe. What better opportunity to put that right than in Europe tomorrow night to put a marker down? We are excited about the challenge. It is a massive game for us and that is what as a rugby player I want to be involved in, these big games. I am excited and so are the rest of the boys.”
Hogg is eager to put right the pain of a year ago when a home defeat to Northampton Saints left the Warriors’ cup campaign in critical condition from the off. That match came not long after the World Cup, with Hogg and a number of Glasgow’s international stars off their game following the physical and emotional rollercoaster in England.
“There were a couple of missed tackles, one by me, and they scored tries, which was unfortunate,” he recalled.
“If we don’t start well we are struggling. It is a massive challenge against Leicester, who are full of international players.
“At the start of the week we analysed them but later on we have been looking at what we will bring to the party. We are very excited.”