Flanker Chris Fusaro says that sending departing players and coaches off on a high note is enough to motivate Glasgow in what are almost certain to be their last three games of the season.
The first comes against Zebre tomorrow night and the 27-year-old insists that there is no demob mentality, despite last weekend’s 10-7 defeat by Munster effectively ending hopes of a sixth successive appearance in the Guinness Pro12 play-offs.
Glasgow would need to take maximum points from their last three regular season games and hope Scarlets and Ulster lose all of theirs but Fusaro believes that, with Gregor Townsend and assistants Matt Taylor and Dan McFarland heading to the Scotland national set-up and a number of players also moving on, there is a real desire to finish a difficult season on a high.
There is also the 1872 Cup second leg to come at Scotstoun on the final weekend, with Glasgow looking good to regain the trophy after taking a 25-12 aggregate lead back on Boxing Day.
“Mathematically it’s going to be extremely difficult and we’re going to be depending on other results,” said the Fifer. “But we can mathematically still qualify so we have to take it one week at a time.
“Zebre have had good results the last couple of weeks [beating Connacht and Dragons] so they’ll obviously be buoyant and will come here with confidence and aggression. We’re treating them with a lot of respect and caution.
“We’ve got our coaching team moving on to Murrayfield with Scotland and we want to send them off on a high. There is a real focus on staying together and remaining positive as a group.
“The last five years we’ve made the play-offs so it’s massively disappointing but we can channel that and use it in games to give the Scotstoun crowd some things to shout about before the end of the season.
“A lot of the guys moving on have been through that last five years, from that last season with Sean Lineen when we made the play-offs and then the next four with Gregor. There is a lot of emotion involved, for me it feels like the end of an era, with guys who came through with me coming to the end of their time here. It will be an added incentive.”
In previous seasons Glasgow have managed to somehow manage the loss of practically their entire first-choice squad during international windows but found it too difficult this term, sustaining blows which proved fatal to their hopes of the top four.
“I think we have been victims of our own success with so many guys going away to the national teams,” said Fusaro. “Injuries at the start of the season had an effect too, we lost three out of five of our locks to long-term injuries, that disruption didn’t help and then come the autumn Tests and Six Nations losing a lot of players affects fluency.
“Normally we do well in these Test windows but we’ve just ended up with a couple of wrong results and even with the international boys coming back we were chasing it a bit.
“Obviously those four games we lost at home had an effect. We like to think of Scotstoun as a bit of a fortress but the performances haven’t been there to be brutally honest. We have to take that on the chin and focus on finishing with three wins out of three.”
Fusaro won four caps for Scotland in 2014 and his first saw him replace Kelly Brown, who announced on Tuesday that he will be retiring at the end of season, in the side when he was selected ahead of the Saracens man for that year’s Calcutta Cup clash.
“That’s the nature of professional sport. He helped me a lot in my first international camps, even as a youngster coming into the Glasgow academy it was him, [John] Barclay and [Johnnie] Beattie in the back row,” said Fusaro. “I’ve got huge respect for Kelly and look up to him. To stay in the game and stay fit well into his 30s shows he is a very good role model.”