URC: Connacht v Glasgow: Tom Jordan ready to build on impressive breakthrough season

New Zealander qualifies to play for Scotland next November

Tom Jordan in action for Glasgow Warriors against Leinster last weekend. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Tom Jordan in action for Glasgow Warriors against Leinster last weekend. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

TOM JORDAN had to wait a long time for his Glasgow Warriors debut, before delivering a terrific breakthrough season as part of a rejuvenated team which reached the URC play-offs and European Challenge Cup Final just before the summer.

Having initially pitched up on the west coast of Scotland in the Autumn of 2019 to play in the inaugural Super6 – as it was then called – Championship for Ayrshire Bulls, the Kiwi midfielder soon caught the eye of the closest pro team and was invited along to train at Scotstoun during the Covid lockdown and thereafter, before signing his first full-time deal with the club in November 2021.

However, PRO14 – as it was then called – rules dictating that only two ‘overseas’ players can be named in any match-day squad was a key reason behind his ending up as a spare part during that first season on the books (despite the fact he was “training the house down” according to Warriors assistant coach Pete Murchie). At that time, fellow New Zealanders Josh McKay and Cole Forbes, Australian Jack Dempsey (not yet committed to playing for Scotland), and Argentinean duo Enrique Pieretto and Domingo Miotti were ahead of Jordan in then head coach Danny Wilson’s pecking order for various reasons.


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Two factors were key to Jordan’s change of status from fringe figure to key player in the Warriors squad at the start of last season. The first was that last November he completed his three-year residency in Scotland which meant he was no longer regarded an overseas player by the league (although he needs to complete five years to qualify for Scotland). The second was the arrival of Franco Smith as head coach, who clearly identified some attributes in the player which aligned with his own adventurous but uncompromising views on how the game should be played.

It probably helped that Ross Thompson – a breakthrough star for Glasgow and Scotland during the previous 18 months – suffered a catalogue of injuries which has seen his career trajectory nose-dive. But that’s really a background factor for Jordan, who would have been difficult to dislodge even if his rival for the No 10 strip had been fit all season in light of a series of authoritative performances which helped ignite a previously under-performing backline.

His importance to the side was perhaps most evident in the team’s lack of bite when he was suspended for their Challenge Cup Final defeat to Toulon following a high tackle on Munster’s Conor Murray the previous week.

“Last season, for me, my main goal was to play one game because it [my Glasgow debut] had been a bit of an elusive one,” Jordan reflects. “Obviously, I got to start pretty early on so that changed things and I just wanted to learn and grow as much as I could and put my best foot forward every time I was out there.

“I was really grateful for the opportunities I got given under Franco but I didn’t really expect the season to go like that, to get that many opportunities. And how we ended up was awesome as well. I can’t speak highly enough of last season.”

 

Jordan started out at the Bulls playing in the centre, before switching to stand-off during the run-in to their 2022 Super6 Championship success, and while it looks like he is of most use to the team at the moment playing at 10, he’s happy to be seen as a utility-back.

“When I spoke to Franco we talked about my versatility,” the 24-year-old explained. “I can play a couple of positions. Last year I came on at full-back against Munster so I’m happy with my role in the team wherever that may be on the field. For me, it’s just rugby [and] it’s pretty much the same skills wherever you are selected. And how we play, any of the other midfielders can slot in behind the pods and play like that.

“Obviously last season I played a lot at 10 and put my hand up there and how the boys are playing in those other positions is really strong, too,” he added “I feel like I always start at 12 and find my way back to 10 somehow, but I enjoy both, honestly.

“Ten is communicating and directing on the field which I enjoy, and at 12 I enjoy the physical side of the game and being more in the front line. I feel I can do these roles effectively in either position.

“You learn when you’re playing 10 what you need from a 12 so then, when I go to 12, I know what communication I need to give to the 10. It’s like when you’re younger and you play all sorts of sports and it helps you overall. It’s sort of the same thing, you play a few positions and it hopefully all helps.”

Before switching hemispheres, Jordan was part of the Waikato academy whilst simultaneously studying finance and accounting at university and winning two provincial club titles with the Hamilton Old Boys alongside several future All Blacks. He trained with the Chiefs Super Rugby franchise and played a handful of development squad fixtures, but that’s as far as he got back in his homeland – although he had not yet exhausted every possible route into the pro game by the time he decided it was time to try something completely different.

“When I finished uni it was a case of: ‘Do I keep chasing that dream and move somewhere else, or move back to my home province which was North Harbour?’,” he recalls. “I had opportunities to try those areas or go overseas and try something new and I thought that would be the better option, rather than staying at home and sticking to what I know. I could always go back eventually if I ever needed to. So, I thought, why not give it a crack overseas

“When I first came over it was a case of play in the Super6 and get some more game-time, experience something different then go back to New Zealand. But when I got here, I really enjoyed it. This side of the world is really great for travel and stuff. It’s a bit harder to get to Europe when you’re in New Zealand so that side of things was awesome and I thought: ‘There’s a lot of the world to see’. So, I ended up staying and eventually got called into training [with Glasgow] and just went from there.”

Jordan must now prove that last season was not a one-off by consolidating his place in the Warriors squad, and if he does that he knows that full international honours with Scotland could be on the cards once he completes that five-year residency requirement next November.

“I think as I’ve progressed more and more it’s something that I can definitely aim for now. When I first came over I wasn’t Scottish and I wasn’t really planning on being here [that long] but as I’ve stayed and played a few games it’s definitely something that, if the opportunity came up, I’d really push towards.

“So, it’s a cool thing to think of for the future but now, for me, it’s just about Glasgow. They’re the ones that gave me the opportunity and I’m working really hard. I think we’ve got a great squad here and I think we can go and do something special.

‘I think we’ve got a team that can win a trophy or even two trophies, so that’s my main focus now for the next season or two, for sure.”


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About David Barnes 3912 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.

3 Comments

  1. URC reported for last weekend who referees were for the eight matches in that standing season. The referee and TMO were reported ahead as being from neither home or visiting club.

    BUT this week for Saturday and Sunday matches URC have not reported where the referees and TMOs. Why have URC changed that? Why explaining?

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