Lyon v Glasgow Warriors: Stuart Hogg has a point to prove

Full-back desperate to finish his spell with the club by helping make a big splash in the European Champions Cup

Stuart Hogg
Stuart Hogg is coming to the end of his time as a Glasgow Warriors player and he is determined to sign-off in style, with a win in Lyon this Saturday his first target. Image: ©Fotosport/David Gibson

THERE is no disguising the fact that the loss of Stuart Hogg to Exeter Chiefs next season is a huge blow to Glasgow Warriors’ aspirations of becoming a genuine European super-power. He has proven time and again that he is a world class talent with the ability to turn a game with his pace, energy and ambition. But the team have learned during the last season and a half that they can survive – and indeed thrive – without their star man at the back.

Hogg has managed only nine appearances for the club during an injury-ravaged 17-months since fracturing his cheek during the 2017 Lions tour of New Zealand, so although the Warriors are undoubtedly a more complete outfit when he is in the number 15 jersey, they are not totally dependent on him.

Having been rested during last weekend’s breath-taking victory against the odds over Scarlets, the 26-year-old will be one of a number of leading internationalists who will return to the side for Saturday’s trip to Lyon in the European Champions Cup. It will be his first appearance for the club since his departure was confirmed – and head coach Dave Rennie believes that having his future settled will allow the player to concentrate on finishing his nine year association with the club playing at the very peak of his powers.

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“I tease him a lot because he played about two games this year and about six [actually seven] last year, so he’s on about a million dollars per game at the moment,” chuckled Rennie.“He’s a fantastic player, as we know. He’s really passionate about playing for his club, and we’re keen to get him out there as often as we can.

The comeback kid

“To his credit, he came straight out of injury into international footie [during November] and he played really well. We’ll obviously hope to get him a bit of ball but even his ability to kick for field position is massive so he’s a pretty special player.

“I think it is often easier when guys make up their mind early,” Rennie added. “They stop stressing about what next year looks like and can just focus on doing a good job now.

There is certainly no danger of the coach trying to ease the transition by giving potential replacements within the squad extra game time.

“He’s been here a lot of years, he’s got a lot of mates here and he’s desperate to go out on a high note, so we’re more than comfortable,” Rennie stated. “It is not a situation of us thinking about him leaving so promoting other guys to look to the future – we’ve got a world class layer in Hoggy and we’re looking to use him.”

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Making up for lost time

Hogg, meanwhile, says he can’t wait to make just his third appearance of the season for the club, in a match the Warriors really need to win if they don’t want to end up relying on serendipity to get through to the knock-out stages.

“I want to show Dave what I am all about and really put my stamp on the Glasgow jersey,” he said. “It has been a frustrating old time, but I am excited to be back, and I am ready to rock and roll.

“I just enjoy playing rugby,” he continued. “I enjoy playing for Glasgow, I enjoy playing for Scotland. I make the most of every opportunity to play because – without trying to sound too negative – you never know … it could be your last.

“But it is not just about me and personal accolades. It is about the team getting to the best possible stage we can. I just want to play my part in it and the boys are in a good place.”

With Hogg recovering from ankle surgery, Warriors came up short in a brutal contest against Saracens in their opening match of this European campaign but recovered brilliantly to defeat Cardiff Blues with a dazzling performance a week later.

“We are in a good place in the pool and it all depends how we go this week,” said the full-back.

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“We have analysed Lyon, where their strengths and weaknesses lie, so we have a lot to do this week to make sure we are ready to go on Saturday. It will be a battle up front for the big boys and hopefully there will be space behind for us back three players.”

“French rugby is full of foreigners, so it is kind of difficult [to talk about a distinct French style]. We know they will work hard, but if we take all our opportunities they will switch off and lie down a little bit. Here is hoping we can make the most of our attack shape and get stuck into them in defence to come away with an important win.

“If we stand back and admire them it will be a long day for us. They are full of top class individuals. Nothing will be given to us cheaply. We will have to work for every single point and we are aware of the challenges ahead.

“Everybody is fully aware of how Glasgow Warriors play our rugby and we are far from the finished article, but we work incredibly hard every single week. We can’t look too far ahead. It is about Lyon on Saturday afternoon and getting a good result to give us an opportunity to qualify.”

  • Warriors prop Alex Allan will not be involved in Saturday’s match after being suspended for three weeks by a disciplinary panel this afternoon for an act of foul play which led to his red-carding against Scarlets last Saturday

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About David Barnes 4004 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The 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.