THERE is always a fair amount of rivalry between those who play or can play in the same position, but Pete Horne, for one, has never allowed that to get in the way of teamwork. He has been superb at times for both Glasgow and Scotland when deputising at stand-off for Finn Russell, but has always subordinated his own ambitions as a playmaker to the need to play a supportive role at inside centre for his former Warriors team-mate.
Similarly, since Russell moved on to Paris, he has continued to enjoy the odd outing at 10, this time as stand-in for Adam Hastings. But even now that Hastings’ position is in doubt after an indecisive display against Benetton last weekend, Horne prefers to talk him up rather than advance his own claims.
We will find out at lunchtime today who is in the team for Sunday’s Champions Cup match against Cardiff Blues, but whether he starts at 10 or at 12 or on the bench, Horne is likely to put in the same sort of cool, dispassionate performance that makes him such a useful foil for his more impetuous team-mates. And if it does turn out that Hastings is at 10, he will once more do it with Horne’s full confidence.
“Adam played countless brilliant games at the start of the season, so I don’t think he’ll be worried about it,” Horne said earlier this week at Scotstoun. “He’ll be fine. He’s been playing really well.
“When I play outside of him, it’s almost just about trying to make his life easier. It’s about communicating well with each other and trying to take a bit of the pressure off him.
“We all could give him a bit more of a hand in terms of the last couple of weeks. But Adam’s fine. His confidence is still there. He’s obviously very dangerous on the ball and it won’t take much for him to get back to his top form.”
As Horne hinted when talking about giving Hastings more of a hand, the No 10 was hardly the only member of the Glasgow team to have an off day in Treviso as Dave Rennie’s side slumped to their third consecutive defeat. While Horne himself was rested because of a knee knock, his brother George merited pass marks and more at scrum-half, while centre Sam Johnson was the pick of the bunch on his return from injury. Apart from those two, nearly every other member of the team was guilty of impatience in possession – a flaw which the Warriors have displayed in the past, and which they know how to deal with, according to Horne, who believes in part it stems from being starved of the ball at the breakdown.
“It comes down to individual decision-making. We’re quite guilty of saying the right things. Everyone will say we need to look after the ball and be more accurate, then we go out and pull stuff out of our arse, and throw poor offloads or chuck 50-50 balls that aren’t on.
“So, yeah, it’s a combination of individual things as well as the team. A lot of the boys want to carry it and we’re maybe getting a bit flat at times.
“We chatted about it when we lost to Connacht a few years ago. When Connacht were at their best, they would hold on to the ball so well. They would dominate possession and when we finally got the ball it almost felt like we needed to score a miracle try and pull something out the bag.
“It’s something that we’ve been guilty of recently. Maybe not so much against Treviso, but against Edinburgh they certainly dominated possession, certainly in the first half of both games. That meant that when we did get the ball we were a little bit loose and were trying to score a miracle try and score out of nothing when these things normally come easily. ‘It’s not like alarm bells ringing or anything. We need a good week’s training and we’ll be all right.”