WHEN Adam Ashe first represented Scotland in 2014, you would have probably scoffed at anyone who suggested that five years on his cap tally would stand at a mere half-dozen. At 21, he was a forward whose combination of creativity and dynamism seemed ideally suited to the modern game and sure to see him develop into something close to a fixture in the national team.
A combination of injuries and fierce competition in the back-row at both club and international level helps explain that meagre tally of caps, but it still seems strange that the last of the Glasgow player’s six Test appearances to date was as far back as 2015. He has come closer than ever over the last few weeks to adding to that tally, however, having been in the wider Scotland squad for the Six Nations, and hopes to celebrate his new Warriors contract by putting in a performance in the PRO14 match against Cardiff Blues on Saturday that will win him a place in the matchday 23 to face France the following weekend.
“I’ll just try to state my intent in the game and try to do what I do best,” the 25-year-old said on Tuesday after his new two-year deal was announced. “If I can do that, then I feel it’ll put me in a pretty solid position for getting a look in for the next Six Nations games.”
Scotland have not won in France since 1999, but Ashe believes that the Warriors’ Champions Cup victory at Lyon – an outstanding 42-22 result – shows that they can do it a week on Saturday. “It’s always exceptionally hard to win over in France, so it definitely gave us a lot of confidence,” he continued.
“For a lot of the Glasgow guys who played that day, they can take confidence going into the French game. I have no doubt that the quality of the Scotland squad at the moment have the ability to beat France away from home.”
Ashe did not have to think too long before agreeing to sign his new contract with Glasgow, but the willingness with which he did so should not be interpreted as any kind of desire to take things easily. He remains ambitious not only of adding to his surprisingly meagre collection of six Scotland caps and of helping the Warriors to more honours, but also of continuing to improve his own individual game. And he is convinced that the best place to do that is Scotstoun.
“It was a pretty easy decision when the offer came in,” he added. “I’m really pleased to be staying here.
“I’ve been here for quite a few years now – it’s a great club and we’ve had some good success over the past few years. We’re a club who have a lot of ambition, so yeah, I’m really pleased to be staying and looking forward to doing my bit over the next two years.
“I think I’ve been here for around seven years now, but I definitely still feel like I’m improving. It’s funny when you look at your career as a rugby player. You see maybe four years ago I was involved with Scotland.
“The game is changing so much that, actually, I feel like my game is improving, but potentially, from an outside point of view, I’m maybe not doing quite as well as some would think. That’s one thing that we have here at this club. We have this constant desire to grow and develop.
“It’s a massively healthy thing because it keeps players engaged and inspired to want to improve. I definitely feel like I’m still making gains in my game, and can hopefully continue to do that over the next five years or so.”
Glasgow have already played Cardiff three times this season – once in the PRO14 and twice in the Champions Cup. Having won all three, they have to be confident about what it will take to make it a quartet of victories.
“It feels like we’ve played them so many times this season,” Ashe added. “To get four games in against them basically over the first half of the season is massive.
“They will be familiar faces. We know their strengths and weaknesses, so we hope to be clear in our minds about how we can go out and beat them this weekend.”
Ashe seems certain to start in that match, not only because injuries and the need to rest have denied Dave Rennie some of his other national squad members, but because the head coach has admired his performances over the course of the campaign so far. “We’ve been really impressed with Ashy’s form this season,” Rennie said. “He’s a good man and we’re rapt that he’s staying put for another couple of years.
“He’s a great athlete, really dynamic, and has all the attributes of a top back-row forward. He’s still a young man and we believe that his best years are still ahead of him.”