GLENN BRYCE left Glasgow Warriors to join Edinburgh three seasons ago with high hopes of grabbing the opportunity to break clear from Stuart Hogg’s shadow to finally establish himself as a frontline full-back in his own right. With the benefit of hindsight, we can safely say that his timing was abysmal.
He joined a club in the process of driving off a cliff into an appalling slump. By the end of September in that first season with the club, Alan Solomons – the head coach who had signed him – was gone, moved along after three abject defeats in the team’s first four league matches.
Duncan Hodge stepped up from assistant coach, but the team’s problems were so deeply embedded that it wasn’t until the extreme shock therapy of Richard Cockerill’s appointment as head coach in the summer of 2017 that the ailing club was finally resuscitated.
Unfortunately for Bryce, he didn’t really fit into the pugnacious Englishman’s view of how the game should be played, meaning he managed only two starts and six bench appearances across the whole of that first campaign of the Cockerill era. His confidence and his form nose-dived as he fell out of love with the game.
Salvation came last year in the form of a Scotland 7s core squad contract, and having rediscovered his love for the game, not to mention belief in his own ability, Bryce was one of a handful of 7s players asked to train with the Warriors squad this summer while their international contingent were away preparing for the World Cup, and he has now set his sights on becoming a more permanent fixture in the squad, and ultimately the player he has always – deep down – believed he could be.
“I don’t think I’ve got to my full potential yet – I’ve only showed it in glimpses,” said the 28-year-old earlier this week. “With being back in this environment, I’m going to get a lot of touches of the ball to show what I can do.
“When I was at Edinburgh, it took most my confidence away, if I’m being honest,” he continued. “You know the type of game they play so I don’t want to talk too much about that. I’m here now, my skills are getting pushed and I’m learning all the time.
“If I could wind the clock back then I would do things differently, but I can’t look at it that way. Things happen for a reason. The important thing is that I’m in a good place now and I’m loving my rugby again.
“If I’m coming in with a smile on my face, then I feel I will play my best rugby, and I think I can see that happening already.”
Bryce wasn’t clear about what contract offers – if any – might come his way from the SRU/Glasgow Warriors this year. In the meantime, he is ready to take one game at a time, believing that if he impresses head coach Dave Rennie and the rest of the Warriors coaching staff then everything else should fall into place.
With Hogg leaving the club to join Exeter Chiefs this summer, there is a vacancy at full-back, and as it stands Bryce is in the box-seat to take on that role having played well in the team’s first pre-season hit-out away to Ulster last weekend.
“He’s not too dissimilar to Hoggy,” said the coach of Bryce, earlier this week. “He’s got a really good skill-set and is quick. He has gone great. He is in the running.”
Rennie added that Bryce will get another chance to shine when Warriors lock horns against Ulster again in their final pre-season match at Scotstoun this coming Saturday.
“Ruaridh Jackson played well last season so competition is always going to be tough, but if I am doing well then I believe I can push for that starting jersey,” said Bryce.
“The last time I was at Glasgow was my breakthrough season around World Cup time [in 2015]. I’m a bit older and more experienced now, and I’ll be hoping to use that wisely during these pre-season games and into the start of the PRO14 campaign.
“I know all the boys here. It is a good place to be and a brand of rugby that everyone loves to play. It’s an expansive game and it suits my style.
“We’re doing stuff in training that I’ve never done before, that I’m going to be able to put into my game. I just feel like I am finding my feet again, and I feel pretty confident about the future.”