La Rochelle v Glasgow: Zander Fagerson ready to hit top gear

Scotland prop is looking forward to playing back-to-back Warriors for the first time this season in Sunday's Champions Cup campaign opener

Zander Fagerson in training with Glasgow Warriors ahead of this weekend’s Champions Cup game against La Rochelle. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Zander Fagerson in training with Glasgow Warriors ahead of this weekend’s Champions Cup game against La Rochelle. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

AFTER a fragmented start to the 2021-22 campaign, Glasgow Warriors prop Zander Fagerson feels like he is finally up to pace, just in time for a crucial seven-week spell which could make or break his club’s season. 

Having been given an extended break after touring South Africa with the Lions during the summer, the 25-year-old returned to action for the team’s home loss against Leinster in mid-October, before immediately being whisked off on international duty with Scotland, starting every game during the recent Autumn Test Series schedule.

He was then rested again on his first weekend back with Warriors (and perhaps slightly relieved not to have been implicated in that capitulation away to Benetton), before coming back into the side which picked up a bonus-point win at home to the Dragons last Saturday.


Schools/Youth Rugby: Stewart’s Melville and Dollar gear up for overdue Conference clash

Premiership dream team – for 4th December 2021

Bill Mata faces lengthy spell on sidelines


While Fagerson understands and accepts that need to manage his body and mind during a long, gruelling season, that hasn’t prevented him from being frustrated that all his time out of the firing line has made it difficult  to reach the high personal standards he has set for himself.

So, now he is looking forward to stringing together a run of games for Warriors, starting with Sunday’s Champions Cup clash against La Rochelle at Stade Marcel Deflandre.

“It’s the first time I have been up for selection two weeks in a row for Glasgow, so it is great being back with the boys, and I’m just really looking forward to getting back out there,” he said. “It was a tough Autumn Nations campaign because we played some good stuff as a team but from a personal point of view it wasn’t amazing. So, I’m looking forward to working on a few things and getting back in the groove.

“As a prop, you can’t really re-create match fitness,” he added. “I’ve got there, eventually, but I felt pretty rusty for the first couple of games. I’m going to enjoy playing as much as I can because when I play regularly I feel my game gets better and better.”

Fagerson and Warriors have just six days after Sunday’s match to recover and refocus before they are back in Champions Cup action at home to Exeter Chiefs – with Stuart Hogg and Jonny Gray returning to their old stomping ground – the following Saturday.

Then it is straight into back-to-back 1872 Cup fixtures against Edinburgh, at Scotstoun on 27th December and on the international pitch at Murrayfield on 2nd January, before Fagerson is likely to be given another breather when the Ospreys provide the opposition on Sunday 9th January.

If he does miss that game, he will return when Warriors play their Champions Cup pool stage return matches away to the Exeter on 15th January and at home to La Rochelle a week later, taking him up to just a fortnight shy of the start of the Six Nations on 5th February.

Lots of big games there, which means he won’t have much time off with his young family during the Christmas period, but Fagerson wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It is my job and my family know that,” he shrugged. “I have never found it hard to switch on and off. I really enjoy what I do, I enjoy playing in big games, and I really enjoy the pre-match feed with the Christmas pudding and the roast turkey. It just means I need to work hard out there on the pitch, so I don’t get too plump!”

 

Fagerson started for Warriors when they beat Le Rochelle away in the Champions Cup two years ago and believes that an even better performance will be needed this weekend.

“Their team has changed a lot, and Ronan O’Gara has come in as head coach and brought a completely different way of doing things,” he said. “They were a great team when we last played them and they’ve definitely improved and got better in a number areas since then.”

“They’ve got threats all over the park, but there is a lot of weight in that pack so it will be a good challenge to get out there and see where we’re at. We’ll need a full 80-minute performance.

“This weekend is a different challenge,” he added. “The Top14 is very different to the United Rugby Championship, but we’ve done our homework, and we’ve got a few things up our sleeve in terms of areas where we are going to test them.”

 

  • The Offside Line’s coverage of Glasgow Warriors is powered by McCrea Financial Services.
  • McCrea Financial Services sponsor Glasgow Warriors and provide a wide range of financial advisory services including mortgage, pension and retirement planning advice. See www.mccreafs.co.uk to contact them for more information.

Schools/Youth Rugby: Stewart’s Melville and Dollar gear up for overdue Conference clash

About David Barnes 3908 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.