Peter Horne believes the arrival of new head coach Dave Rennie in the summer makes the decision to stay at a club where he has been for eight seasons feel like “a fresh start”.
The 27-year-old Glasgow centre/stand-off’s new three-year contract extension was announced yesterday and, ahead of his quicker than expected return from injury against Ulster in the Guinness Pro12 this afternoon, insisted that it was an easy decision to make. Rennie will take charge at Scotstoun when Gregor Townsend moves to the Scotland job and Horne, who made his Warriors debut back in 2009, admitted that the chance to work with the highly-rated Kiwi coach was a major part of his decision to commit himself to the club until 2020.
“To be fair I was keen to stay with Glasgow as soon as they came to me a while ago,” said Horne, who has been capped 23 times by Scotland. “When we got talking it was a no-brainer. When Gregor was leaving there was a bit of uncertainty but as soon as they said Dave was coming in and we chatted with him it got me really excited. He seems brilliant.
“If I or some of the other boys were thinking about leaving it would be for a fresh start but that’s exactly what we’ll be getting here now. It’s something that is really exciting.”
Horne’s recovery from an ankle injury he picked up at the start of the December has been smoother than he could have hoped for and he returns at stand-off for today’s crucial clash with Ulster at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast.
“We initially thought it would be 12-16 weeks so to get back in ten is great. I’m feeling good and I can’t wait to get back playing. It feels like my season hasn’t got going.
“We were obviously very disappointed with [the home loss to Scarlets] last weekend. It has put a bit more pressure on us but it’s down to us with a lot of the Scotland boys away. We can’t make excuses and need to really step up.
“We reckon we’re going to need at least six wins out of our last eight games to get that top four so if we could get a good result this weekend that would certainly do us a favour.”
Brandon Thomson will make his Glasgow Warriors debut at full-back having joined the club last week on a short-term deal from the Stormers. Lee Jones and Sean Lamont start outside of Thomson on the wings, with Mark Bennett, whose switch to Edinburgh next season was confirmed on Tuesday, returns from international duty to start outside of Nick Grigg in the centres.
Henry Pyrgos will pair up with the returning Horne, captaining the side at scrum-half and is hoping to press a claim for the Scotland No 9 jersey against Wales next weekend. With Glasgow currently fifth, three points above today’s opponents in sixth, Townsend accepts that the outcome of this match could prove crucial in the race for a top-four finish and place in the play-offs.
“We always knew this would be a tough period, given that we are playing not just Scarlets and Ulster but we have Ospreys away next week,” said the coach. “We did not get it right last week, we have to improve on our performance. We realise this is likely to be an even tougher game where we are away against an excellent side who have a number of players back either from injury or from Ireland. I believe we can go there and win.”