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Able deput keeps Kellock on guard

He may have witnessed the beginnings of an attempted coup, but the previously undisputed leader of Glasgow Warriors liked what he saw as his second-in-command led them to a crucial victory at Scotstoun last weekend.

Al Kellock insists Glasgow's run of good form fuels his motivation when it comes to Scotland duty. Picture: PA
Al Kellock insists Glasgow's run of good form fuels his motivation when it comes to Scotland duty. Picture: PA

Al Kellock had persuaded those commanding the national team to give him special leave of absence from international duty to attend the club's top of the table meeting with Ulster.

Two nights before winning his 50th cap in the win over Ireland by a Scotland team containing a nucleus of players who have emerged through the Warriors in recent years, he drew inspiration from what he witnessed.

"Johnno [head coach Scott Johnson] was fine with me coming along. I spoke to him and said I was really keen to go through. He wouldn't have wanted us all to come out en masse but he was okay with me coming. I came through with [Glasgow and Scotland defence coach] Matt Taylor and [scrum coach] Massimo Cuttita. It was good. It was enjoyable," said Kellock.

"When your club is doing well it gives you an extra lift. It's just a different motivating factor when you're in there and Glasgow are going well. We have to ensure that our performances are up there. I was pleased to get through, see the boys beforehand and then drop back in at the end of the game to congratulate them."

With the same influences that have created the Glasgow culture also now being brought to bear on the previously struggling Scotland under-20 set-up with Sean Lineen, the former Warriors coach, guiding them to wins over Italy and Ireland, Kellock believes last weekend could represent a turning point for Scottish rugby. "It should be, because that [three wins over Irish opposition on the same weekend] can't have been done in a long time, especially as Ulster are at the top of the league . . . it wasn't a win against a mid-table side," he observed. "They had only lost twice previous to that. The boys are really excited and we have more attachment to the under-20s as well. It all gets fed back in which is great. You are seeing Johnny [Gray], Adam [Ashe] and Mark [Bennett] if he's playing for them, week-in, week-out and, obviously, with Sean coaching them as well you've got more interest in what's going on."

Success breeds competition, however, including internally and after a club record three bonus point wins in his three matches as captain, Ryan Wilson suggested last Friday that he would be conducting a vote among the squad to see who should be in charge when Kellock returned.

The regular skipper has been impressed by his deputy. "I think it's fantastic what Ryan has done," he said. "Last year, when the Six Nations came around, we talked about what we needed. We did well in those games and that pushed us on to the semi-final spot. This season, we've not just done well from games during the Six Nations, we've done as well as we possibly could. We couldn't have got any more points and that shows the strength of the squad.

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