Nick Grigg proves a point with impressive late showing

Glasgow Warriors centre showed against Zebre that he has taken on board some constructive criticism from head coach Danny Wilson

Nick Grigg in action against Edinburgh back n January. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Nick Grigg in action against Edinburgh back n January. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

AS encouraged as Danny Wilson has been with the performances of some of his emerging Warriors in recent matches, the head coach was particularly pleased on Saturday evening with how a few of the older heads in the squad performed during the final 20 minutes of his team’s bonus point win at Zebre.

For example, Ian Keatley – the 33-year-old Irishman who was making his debut for the club after joining on a short-term contract until the end of the season – brought control at stand-off and got the visitors playing in the right areas of the park after he appeared on the scene just before the hour mark.

21-year-old Ross Thompson’s general poise in that key position has more than justified the recent faith shown in him, but he was beginning to look a bit frazzled as the game neared its final quarter, and Warriors undoubtedly benefitted from having an older and vastly experienced head to manoeuvre the team onto the front foot during that crucial period.


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Meanwhile, 28-year-old Nick Grigg made an immediate impact off the bench, with a powerful burst and well-timed pass sending Jamie Dobie in for the team’s second try, which pulled them back into the contest after a fraught 20-minute spell straddling half-time, and he then weighed in with a try of his own with eight minutes left on the clock to secure the bonus point.

It was a timely reminder of just how much of a handful the Scotland cap can be to opposition defences when operating near his peak, with his pace, power, low centre of gravity and sharp running lines highly effective at getting his team on the front foot.

As much as Warriors’ health in the medium to long term will be built around the likes of Thompson, Dobie, Rufus McLean (who was a real handful on the right wing) and Cole Forbes (who was equally tasty on the opposite wing), the immediate importance of having players like Grigg stepping up to the plate should not be overlooked. To that end, Wilson is pleased with how the outside centre has taken on board some recent feedback.

“I’ve been very honest with Nick,” said the coach. “We probably didn’t think he had played as well in his opportunities as we have seen from him in the past and not being selected [in the starting XV] was giving him a bit of a rattle, which I know he didn’t like because he’s a very competitive squad member.

“But there is one way to respond to it … when you get your opportunity you take it. He got his opportunity today and he took it. I thought he played really well, made a big difference, and I’m really pleased with his response.

“I think the substitutions were important today,” he added Wilson. “We got those right at the right time and I think those guys came on and made an impact. That allowed us to finish the game off.”

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From Grigg’s perspective, he felt he had proven a point, although he harbours no bitterness about the way the situation was handled.

“It was just a polite, friendly conversation,” the player explained. “It didn’t get heated and I can see it from their [the coaches] point of view as well as my own. It was pretty self-explanatory and I understood where they were coming from.

“In the last few games I played, I was maybe a bit comfortable with where I was. I just got a bit of a kick up the bum and realised I had to step it up a bit. I’ve been doing that at training and mentally I feel good so when I came out, I brought the impact that the coaches wanted to see.

“Obviously, you get a bit pissed off and frustrated, but there are no hard feelings. It’s all good. The coach picks the team and you’ve got to deal with it yourself in your own way. That way, for me, was to get my head down and keep training and wait for my next opportunity.

“I had a fair bit of energy over the last couple weeks and had a point to prove at training. I came into the game a bit nervous but it brought the best out of me and it was good to get the win.

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“Personally, if I’m honest, I thought I started the season really well,” he added. “But in that Exeter game [which Warriors lost 42-0 in mid-December] we didn’t perform as a team, and then in the last two Edinburgh games [in early January] I felt I didn’t see much ball.

“That comes down to outside circumstances, but it also comes down to me wanting the ball, I guess, and being hungry to get my hands on it. That was something I had to think about.

“I’m not just going to go through the motions here. I want to get my hands on the ball. Today I was just pleased to do that a couple of times to show what I can do.”

Saturday’s victory lifted Warriors to fourth in Conference A of the PRO14. They are now 10 points behind third-placed Ospreys but have a game in hand and play the Welshmen at Scotstoun on Friday night.

We don’t yet know what the criteria is going to be for qualifying for the Champions Cup next season, and fourth place might well end up being enough – but finishing third would make sure of it.


Zebre v Glasgow: Warriors secure bonus-point win on the road

About David Barnes 4028 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.

2 Comments

  1. Needs to be said though that due to injuries Zebre had 2 scrum halves and 2 fly halves in their defensive line. Even I could spot the gaps, but that said he still had to take advantage of the situation which he assuredly did

  2. Grigg made a real difference when he came on – hope he can maintain that level of focus. Wilson might need to have a similar conversation with one or two other players! Just too many basic errors such as dropped balls / loosing ball in contact becoming a regular feature – appreciate it must be hard to maintain focus at the stage of a stop start season but all the same that’s what professionals do.

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