Delight for Peter Murchie as cup clash marks start of three more years

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CHRISTMAS traditionally brings reflection, but Glasgow full-back Peter Murchie is already plotting the challenges of 2013 and beyond after extending his contract with the Warriors.

Many of the headlines about Gregor Townsend’s bid to strengthen his side for the coming years have centred on foreign imports, but the Glasgow head coach has also been working hard to retain the core of the squad put together by predecessor Sean Lineen. Now Murchie has followed skipper Al Kellock, prop Mike Cusack, lock Tom Ryder and winger Tommy Seymour in signing a fresh deal.

Since joining from London Welsh in 2009, Murchie has made more than 50 appearances for the Warriors and, with a father from Ayrshire, is one of a clutch of players to arrive from lower-league clubs down south and prove his worth. A product of the Bath academy, he comes across as a quiet sort, but is hard to miss at 6ft 3in and 15 stone.

He has worked away in the background when the spotlight has shone on other back-three talents such as Stuart Hogg, Sean and Rory Lamont and now Sean Maitland.

Murchie has made more appearances for Glasgow recently than all of them put together and his skills in securing high balls and counter attacking have made other sides re-assess their kicking tactics and also persuaded former Scotland coach Andy Robinson to select him ahead of Max Evans for the bench against South Africa.

“My game has come along way since I came north and I’m delighted to have signed on for another three years,” said Murchie. “I want to keep developing my game and this is the perfect place for me to do that. There is a huge amount of competition in the back-line but that can only improve us.”

Murchie was at the heart of Glasgow’s 23-14 win in the first leg of the 1872 Cup and, while Edinburgh are hopeful that a return to the wider expanses of Murrayfield will assist their stuttering attack, Murchie and his team-mates are also looking forward to having the scope to attack from deep. He said: “The conditions last week weren’t ideal, but we scored three really good three tries and that’s testament to the way we want to play the game. The positive thing is we can play either up front or move it wide. We’d certainly like to get running at Edinburgh and score tries in the second leg so we hope the conditions are perhaps a little better and let us get the ball through the hands a bit more.

“Edinburgh are a good side, and can be a real threat on the front foot. They’ll want to hit back after what happened at Scotstoun. We need a similar, if not better, performance than we showed last Friday, but we’re looking forward to getting out onto the pitch at Murrayfield and showing what we can do.”

Both Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley and Townsend are playing their selection cards close to their chest, but the teams are expected to be revealed tomorrow. Townsend started with a back three of Murchie flanked by DTH van der Merwe and Maitland, with Sean Lamont and Peter Horne beginning to look promising as a midfield blend, but, with players such as Hogg, Henry Pyrgos and Duncan Weir eager for runs in the back line, and Rory Lamont close to a return, he has a number of options. Murchie may not start if Townsend seeks to surprise Edinburgh.

“Same again”, however, would not be a surprise, nor would it be if Bradley named the same trio who started at Scotstoun, Greig Tonks with wings Tim Visser and Lee Jones. While they failed to have the same impact on the first leg as their opposite numbers, that was down to the amount of ball and momentum generated by the hosts.

That will again be the key to victory on Saturday afternoon, as the infield work will determine the opportunities for the talented backs to attack, but the home stars could do worse than learn from the full-back who has been building up a head of steam in the west.