If Wile E. Coyote had his work cut out trying to catch Road Runner then he would have had no chance with Stuart Hogg.
Glasgow head coach Dave Rennie said yesterday that Hogg, who returns to the team for this afternoon’s huge European Champions Cup clash with Leinster, is in the “best nick of his life” after four months out.
The Kiwi revealed that Hogg had recently broken the club’s record by hitting a top speed of 36.8kmh (just under 23mph) in training.
In contrast, the Greater Roadrunner bird can only hit 20mph, while, back in the human realm, the top speed ever clocked by Usain Bolt was 27.8mph in the Berlin World Championships of 2009 when he set the still-standing 100m record of 9.58 seconds.
“He has been voted best player in the Six Nations for the past two years. He is pretty handy, isn’t he?” said Rennie when asked how big a boost it was to have Scotland’s star player back on the park in a Warriors jersey.
“He’s got himself into the best nick of his life,” added the coach. “He has broken the club record in regard to speed. He has dropped a lot of weight so he is a lot leaner. He has a massive kicking game, he’s electric on the field and he’s really demanding.
“He’ll put pressure on other guys and challenge them to perform well. He’s gold to have back in. His energy has been really infectious around the group.
“The record was straight-out speed. On Thursday he ran 36.8 kmh. That’s the top speed he hit, which is massive, just over ten metres per second. So yeah, he’s in good nick.”
Rennie admitted that he had considered the option of easing Hogg back in off the bench, but decided that the time was right to unleash his
“He was pretty determined to be in the mix last week,” explained Rennie. “But we just wanted to make sure his introduction was right. He’s got a lot of training time with us now and done a lot of contact work, so he’s confident.
“We thought of starting Ruaridh Jackson again and bringing Hoggy off the bench, but Ruaridh has played eight games of 80 minutes and he deserves a bit of a breather so we’ve brought Hoggy straight in to start. He’s comfortable with that and so are we.”
Rennie doesn’t shy away from the fact that a home failure to follow the disappointment would pretty much be Glasgow’s European campaign over before it’s really started, but doesn’t think that will add pressure. “We haven’t talked about it at all amongst the team,” said Rennie. “When I said it was a must-win it was in response to someone else who said it, and it’s true.
“I think in this comp you need to win your home games and pick up a couple of wins away from home.
“Our boys are well aware of the importance of this game. But we’re not focusing on the end result: we’ve got to get a good performance on the park and do enough to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
“We can take a lot of confidence from what we’ve done in the past seven weeks. We just know it’s going to be brutal tomorrow. They’re always tough, aren’t they? Very physical. We want to put the same sort of pressure on them.”