AFTER the excitement of Glasgow Warriors’ thrilling victory over Munster last weekend, the arrival of Benetton Rugby at Scotstoun this coming Friday night may not offer quite the same level of stardust, but Pat MacArthur believes that there is still plenty at stake in this game given that the Italians are on a two-game winning streak [not to be sniffed at given it is the first time since January 2016].
He also pointed out that there will be a number of players in the home side desperate to make a good impression – himself included – after being restricted to peripheral roles during the early weeks of this season.
“I have stood here before and said that, as a front-row forward, this is one of the toughest games of the year for me. You know what you are going to get – you are going to get a confrontational, hard team. It is an enjoyable game to play, you always walk off knowing you have played in a good game of rugby. It [them winning] does not surprise me, they have been pushing teams hard for the last couple of years,” insisted the 30-year-old hooker.
MacArthur has managed just three appearances off the bench for the Warriors in their four competitive matches so far in this campaign, adding up to 50 minutes of action in total, but is likely to be given a chance to show Dave Rennie what he can do from the start of a game this time round, with the New Zealander expected to really rotate his squad for the first time.
“We have got a big squad, a strong squad, and we want to be sure that whoever gets a chance to play in that jersey knows that there is a minimum standard that they have to perform at,” he said. “Then you can change the team and see a heightening in intensity because that is your chance to show how good you are and everybody wants to take their chance.”
“We came in [after the Munster game] and said: ‘That is the minimum standard’. We judge ourselves at the start of every week, so it is not a question of who we are playing against, but how we play and how we can develop. You can see at training that it is intense – the boys are going at each other on a constant drive to improve. We will never relax, that is just a new minimum and we will aim to move on from there.”
“The boys are putting their hands up and you do not rest on your laurels by any means. You can play really well one week, but then the next week, you have to do it again. There is no point in thinking about what will happen in two or three weeks’ time if you don’t play well in this next game. Everything has been drawn back into looking at the Treviso game.”
George Turner – who arrived at the Warriors on a year long loan during the summer after four frustrating seasons at Edinburgh – has hogged the number two jersey so far in this campaign, and competition for that middle slot in the front-row is going to get even tougher now that last year’s first choice Scotland hooker Fraser Brown is back in full training and in with a shout of featuring at some stage in Friday’s match.
“That is brilliant, it is the way that rugby progresses,” insisted MacArthur. “It shows the progress over the last few years. If you think back over the last seven or eight years then the strength in depth was not there, and now you are looking at three internationalist in one position – fighting for the one spot and trying to show that they are the best in that position.”
“Everyone goes out there to do that, knowing that if you are not performing to the best of your ability then plenty of others are waiting to step up and the have their shot.”