The stunning stats that back up Glasgow Warriors' renaissance man in silverware tilt

URC final chance beckons

Josh McKay missed out through injury last season when Glasgow Warriors reached the Challenge Cup final. Watching from the stand was tough but the full-back will use it as motivation for this Saturday’s United Rugby Championship Grand Final in South Africa.

It’s the kind of occasion he has been building towards since he first picked up a rugby ball as a young Crusaders fan in Kaiapoi, a town on New Zealand’s South Island.

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Playing the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld is a huge test for Glasgow but their run to the final, beating the Stormers and Munster, the previous two URC champions, suggests they have a fighting chance in one of rugby’s great arenas.

Josh McKay was voted Glasgow Warriors' player of the season by the club's supporters. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)Josh McKay was voted Glasgow Warriors' player of the season by the club's supporters. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)
Josh McKay was voted Glasgow Warriors' player of the season by the club's supporters. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

“The Bulls are a really good team and this is a really good challenge for us,” said McKay. “Growing up in New Zealand as a young kid, watching all the big games in Super Rugby, the Bulls have always been a great team. To be a part of this is pretty special.”

This is his third campaign with Glasgow and the first one not to be disrupted by injury. He has played 21 games and scored seven tries, compared to 12 and three last season. He was voted the club’s player of the year by the supporters and it was no surprise when you consider his performances and look at the stats. He ranks second highest in the URC for defenders beaten (49), metres gained (1073) and carries made (191). He has also notched up the fifth highest number of offloads (21). McKay, 26, feels the Glasgow fans are now seeing the best of him.

“To be injury-free and fit for selection every week is where we want to be physically as rugby players,” he said. “In my first couple of years I still managed to play a decent amount of games but I had to have a couple of surgeries. Last year’s was a season-ender to my foot and the season before was to my ankle.

“My body has been in a good spot all season and when you’re playing consistently it helps your confidence and you can grow as a player on the field and you can build combinations. It’s been an awesome season with the Warriors and I’m absolutely loving life in Scotland in Glasgow.”

He appreciates it all the more after missing last season’s final loss to Toulon in Dublin.

“When you’re sitting in the stands you feel helpless. So absolutely that fuels the fire,” he said. “I’m just really looking forward to the challenge ahead. The Bulls at Loftus, as a young kid supporting the Crusaders, that’s where you wanted to be. Yes, I’m not wearing a Crusaders jersey but it’s awesome wearing the Warriors jersey playing in an awesome stadium against awesome opposition.”

McKay lost a good friend this week with the passing of Connor Garden-Bachop, who played Super Rugby for the Highlanders. His death at the age of 25 shocked New Zealand rugby and the Glasgow full-back paid tribute.

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“Connor and I went to Lincoln University together, we played for Canterbury together and played for the Highlanders together,” said McKay. “It’s just so deeply saddening. He was all-round one of the greatest guys I’ve ever met. He would light up every room so he’s a huge loss. It’s pretty hard to put it into words at the moment.”

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