It may not present the lingual challenge which Finn Russell described about his new life in Paris last week, but Stuart Hogg is braced for a bit of a language barrier when he moves to Devon next year.
“They’ll understand me, but they’ll not understand my wife. She’s broad Hawick,” said the star full-back yesterday as he faced the media for the first time since announcing he will be departing Glasgow Warriors for Exeter Chiefs at the end of this season.
Hogg has stressed that the decision to remain within the UK at the English Premiership club, rather than follow his former clubmate to France, was very much a “family decision” with wife Gillian and his two children in mind.
“We’re very much looking forward to it, and the accent won’t be changing much – we might have to slow down a little bit when I’m speaking, but we’ll be fine,” added Hogg.
He is firmly focused on finishing this November series with a win for Scotland against Argentina on Saturday and then looking forward to the rest of the season with Glasgow and next year’s Six Nations and World Cup before heading south, but is delighted with the decision and excited about what the future holds.
“I’ve heard nothing but good reports about Exeter – and the club and the culture they’ve got down there,” said the two-time British and Irish Lion and double Six Nations player of the tournament.
“I’m really excited to get started with them next season, but it is a long way away yet and a hell of a lot of rugby [this season] still to be played. It will be a new challenge for myself and my family moving to the bottom of England, but one which we are very much looking forward to.”
Hogg admitted that he had surreptitiously sounded out Scotland new boy Sam Skinner, who plays for the Sandy Park outfit that Hogg will soon be calling home.
“I actually spoke to him about it the first time I met him in St Andrews [at Scotland training camp], but being the big, dumb forward that he is, he didn’t click onto anything about it! But he’s given me a few good spots to have a look at. I’m going to go down next weekend and have a little look around and see what the place has got to offer. So exciting times.
“I’ve loved my nine seasons at Glasgow. They’ve made me the player and person I am today. It will be tough to leave but there is a lot of rugby to be played before then and hopefully I can contribute to a very successful season.”
Hogg hopes that the move won’t just be good for him, but also for the next generation coming through.
“It was a similar situation with me and Bernie Stortoni,” he reflected on the start of his professional career.
“I sat behind him for a year, learned a hell of a lot and the next season he retired which allowed me a sniff of getting in the Glasgow team. There is a good few youngsters coming through that can potentially get into that Glasgow full-back slot. I believe I’ve made the right decision and hopefully it’s good for the youngsters coming through too and, who knows, hopefully we could have a future star at 15.”
An injury scare against South Africa at the weekend aside, Hogg has been delighted with how he has come back after ankle surgery in September, making a couple of trademark searing breaks at the weekend before being forced off as a precaution.
“You’re never the complete player and never going to get to where you want to be quickly,” he said.
“I’m just going to keep working hard on my game, getting back to full fitness and contributing as much as I possibly can to the Scotland team. I feel I’ve done that over the past couple of weeks. Obviously there’s things here and there I’d like to improve for the week ahead.”
Hogg played the full 80 minutes against Fiji but felt the display against the Springboks was more like his old self.
“Against Fiji I didn’t get as many opportunities as I got at the weekend, which I think was due to the fact that against Fiji we had no idea what they were going to bring whereas against South Africa we knew exactly their gameplan – they were going to kick a lot and as a back-three we’re going to get a lot of ball to try and counter-attack,” said the 26-year-old from Hawick.
“I felt a lot better at the weekend and just very much looking forward to Argentina now.”
Hogg is expecting a much tougher Pumas side than the one they dismantled in Resistencia in June.
“They’ve got some terrific individual players and play well collectively as well,” said Hogg. “They’ve had a couple of cracking wins in the Rugby Championship, so we are fully aware of the challenges which are going to be coming our way. So, it is about getting the review done from the South Africa game, and start looking ahead to Argentina and what should be another cracking Test match. We’ll analyse them – their strengths and weaknesses – their offloading game – but we pride ourselves on having a cracking defence, so we’ll look to get up in their faces, and smash them at every opportunity possible. And hopefully get good turnover attack on the back of it.”