Glasgow head coach Dave Rennie admits selecting two brothers as a half-back pairing is a first in his coaching career but can be confident that Peter and George Horne shouldn’t be lacking in familiarity despite starting a professional game together for the first time.
Peter, 28, and George, 22, will be at stand-off and scrum-half respectively when Glasgow welcome Leinster back to Scotstoun in the Guinness Pro14 tonight, less than a fortnight after losing to the Irish province in Europe.
“I’m sure George will do what he’s told by his brother at ten,” joked Rennie. “They’ll be a good combination. They train a lot together anyway, and we’re fortunate there because Peter and Henry [Pyrgos] have played a lot together as well. We thought George was excellent last week [against Southern Kings] so we just wanted to back that up with a reward of starting this week.”
The elder Horne is one of 11 players released from the Scotland autumn Test series squad, with centre Alex Dunbar returning from a knee injury on the bench.
Rennie continued: “I really rate Peter, he’s an outstanding player who is as good at ten as he is at 12. He’s got a lot of experience and a lot of knowledge – he’s one of our leaders so he ticks a lot of boxes.
“I’m very keen to get Peter on the field somewhere and our midfielders have been going pretty well, we have a fair bit of cover round there, so it makes sense [to play him at 10].
“I like the way he plays. He’s pretty demanding as a leader but he’s a good man and he understands when to put an arm around a guy and so on, so I just think his authority will be really important in a game like this.”
Rennie had the option to bring Pyrgos back in but has decided to go again with the younger Horne, with the former club co-captain named as a replacement.
“We wanted to reward George for his performance last week,” said Rennie. “We obviously have Henry on the bench, who has an enormous amount of experience, but we are very happy with this combination, knowing that we’ve got a good bench, with three international boys covering the back-line.”
With Glasgow’s internationals spending most of the week in Edinburgh training with the national squad, Kiwi flanker Callum Gibbins, who has made a terrific impact since joining in the summer, has been handed the captaincy for tonight’s game, which will see the Warriors looking to make it eight wins out of eight in the Pro14.
Rennie added: “Rob Harley led the team last week and we considered him doing the job again, but it wasn’t really the right thing today for training, so it makes sense for Callum – who is one of our leaders – to take the rein. I’m sure he’ll do an excellent job.
“He’s captained Manawatu for a number of years and has a lot of experience, and he’s built his credibility and earned resect amongst the boys since arriving here.”
Leinster are much-changed from their European win but Rennie is still expecting an equally tough game.
“They were impressive against us [last month],” said the coach. “There were a couple of areas where they highlighted that we need to get better. Certainly we didn’t defend as well as we have been defending, and that hurt us.
“We were indisciplined when they put us in the corner. They were very patient, they just built pressure and got under us. We’ve learned a bit from that and will try and put that on the park tomorrow.
“Obviously they’re missing a few but what we know about Leinster is that they have excellent depth.
“Even when they’ve got frontline guys out the replacements are invariably international players, so we’ll expect a very similar performance from them – they’re really nuggety up front, so we’ll need to really front up from a set-piece point of view to get our game going.”
Rennie won’t discourage his team to be expansive and added: “I want our guys to offload, I want them to keep the ball alive. If they’re looking and it’s on but it’s poor execution then we’ll deal with that part of it.
“We don’t want to discourage them but we do want to build up a bit of ball and build pressure.”