HE was wearing a flamboyant multi-coloured scrum cap at training on Tuesday morning, but any suggestion that Tim Swinson might be turning a bit soft as he approaches his 100th appearance for the club is quickly dismissed with a surprisingly sensible explanation of the method to his madness.
“You can see yourself in the video when you are watching it back. It is quite tough to see when you are wearing a black one and everybody is roughly the same size as you,” revealed the 30-year-old.
Swinson has spent six years at Scotstoun working very hard to make sure he doesn’t blend into the crowd. He arrived as a slightly under-sized second-row [at six foot four inches] with a reputation as a hard-working journeyman from his days fighting relegation from the English Premiership with Newcastle Falcons, and he has gone on to establish himself as a key cog in the Warriors wheel through relentless dedication to the cause.
What he lacks in bulk is more than compensated for in abrasiveness. His approach has served him international recognition – he qualifies for Scotland through his maternal grandmother from Glasgow – with 32-caps accumulated so far, which is not bad for a man who plays the same position as Richie and Jonny Gray, Grant Gilchrist and Ben Toolis.
Swinson’s drive to be the best he can be was evident when asked if he shares head coach Dave Rennie’s frustration that the Warriors have not yet quite hit their straps this season, despite winning both games played so far.
“He is very fair. He is saying stuff we all know. He has a very clear plan of what he wants and is sticking to it. It makes it easy for us to understand what he wants as he says it repeatedly. It is fantastic for us,” he explains.
“We are focusing on ourselves. We have shown in the last couple of weeks that in the final twenty minutes we are pretty fit. That will have to be the case again [against Cardiff Blues on Saturday night] but we need more control, more composure and to get our stuff right.”
“We have won two games,” he continues. “In the last five years that would be looked on as pretty much normal. It is great to have nine points from the first two games, but we can’t just sit back and accept the result as the achievement. We want to play a good brand of rugby, be interesting. A lot of it is attacking as a team rather than just defending really well and living off a couple of mistakes we manage to force.”
“We have played really well in periods in the last two games and have been hard to stop, but we have to play well for the whole period of a game, rather than five minutes here and five minutes there.”
If selected, Swinson will become Warriors’ latest centurion against the Blues this weekend. He was initially recruited on a two-year contract by Sean Lineen at the tail end of the 2011-12 season, but by the time he arrived in Glasgow the reins had been handed over to Gregor Townsend. Another big change at the club that year was that Scotstoun replaced Firhill as the team’s full-time base.
“The year I came in had been a really big change on the year before,” he reflects. “Having a single training base changed things a lot. The mindset with the guys who were here before has been pushed on by the long serving guys in our leadership group. It is not acceptable to be happy with losing. When we turn up we should feel we are able to win every game. I think that is a really good place to be in.”
As Warriors look to take their progress to the next level under Rennie, a key issue will be the strength in depth of the squad – with a big onus on the homegrown players emerging through the academy system being able to step up when established stars such as Swinson are not available.
“The thing about Dave Rennie is that he wants to have the best two teams in the competition. The last couple of weeks we have been really put that to the test. The guys that have not made the 23 have been fantastic in training. That really pushed the starting team and the bench to defend well and attack well in training. So the pressure we are getting form the guys coming through is fantastic,” concludes Swinson.