FRASER Lyle says that his belated breakthrough to the professional rugby ranks at 26, with Glasgow, has been made all the sweeter by the long and winding road that has taken him to Scotstoun.
The versatile back, who can play at stand-off, full-back and both inside and outside centre, had departed the Scottish club scene three years ago, after playing for Aberdeen Grammar School FP, and left Scotland for Canada, where he spent two seasons with Calgary Hornets before returning home to settle into the BT Premiership with hometown club Stirling County.
Yet despite embracing a new career as an estate agent, Lyle’s quality shone through and he strayed on to Warriors’ radar, was fast-tracked into the Glasgow set-up and an eye-catching peformance in November at Bridgehaugh for Glasgow ‘A’ against Edinburgh ‘A’ landed him a six-month deal.
Now, after a try on his Warriors debut in the thrashing of Zebre on Sunday, where he formed a promising centre pairing with Richie Vernon, Lyle is desperate to stay in the side for tomorrow’s top-of-the-table clash with Ospreys at Scotstoun.
Lyle said: “I was told when I came in to focus on this Six Nations period, as we were going to lose a lot of players, so I really targeted the Zebre game and worked hard to perform as best as I could and now it is all about doing my best to stay in the team for tomorrow and the Ospreys game.
“It’s funny making your debut at 26 and looking up to guys who are younger than you but that is not a problem and the big thing for me was just to make my debut and not let anyone down.
“Obviously getting the try was the icing on the cake and I am just hoping that the Zebre game plus a good week in training has given me the platform to stay in the side. With us knocking them [Ospreys] off the top of the table they will be desperate to beat us and reclaim first place and it is just a massive fixture and to get my first home game for Glasgow in it would be massive.”
Lyle has no doubt that his comparatively late entry into the professional ranks has made him savour his breakthrough even more and is determined to turn his short-term contract into a more permanent agreement.
He said: “When I came back from Canada, where I had played with Calgary Hornets for two summers, I played for Stirling in the BT Premiership and I thought my chance in the pros had gone. Then Glasgow picked me up and I signed the short-term deal in November, but there are no guarantees and it’s up to me to show I am worth a long-term contract. But having had a full-time job as an estate agent for 10 months I certainly enjoy pro rugby so much more and given that I have not come through the system and only come to pro rugby comparatively late at 26, I appreciate every day with Glasgow.”