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Downey is at a new club but is eager to get back to winning ways

THERE is nothing like winning to bring more wins and there is an art to taking that final step from consistently winning finals.

James Downey has signed from Munster having been excited about the challenge of taking Glasgow to the next step. Picture: SNS
James Downey has signed from Munster having been excited about the challenge of taking Glasgow to the next step. Picture: SNS

Finding that key to unlock the silverware is the final missing piece in the Glasgow Warriors jigsaw and the club hope that the lessons James Downey can learned at Munster, a team which exemplifies that art of winning when it matters, will help them find it.

"I'm here to win," said Downey. "Glasgow are already a long way down the line - I don't think you can get to semi-finals and finals without being a decent side and having consistency. That is the main thing, you saw that Glasgow won most games last year and winning is a habit. We need to keep that going forward, do it again and then go one step further.

"Look at my career, I joined Northampton when they had been relegated but had a young team and I was there as they came to fruition. To be part of that again would be great. I don't think it will be too long before we start to get silverware - to get it in my first year would be great."

During a career which has taken him around Europe, from his native Leinster to Italy and England before he landed back in Ireland to wear the red of Munster, Downey has been the archetypal powerhouse centre. The 33-year-old was at the heart of things when Northampton started to build their European pedigree with their 2009 victory in the Challenge Cup and has seen first-hand how teams grow into title winners.

He then moved to Munster as they continued their remarkable run of reaching the quarter-finals or beyond in the Heineken Cup in 15 out of 16 seasons from 1999, reaching four finals, two of them culminating in wins. They are a team that has developed the skill of winning when it matters into an art.

Downey sees Glasgow as a side on the cusp of the same break breakthrough - Munster had lost two European finals, three semi-finals and two quarter-finals before they finally learned the lessons and won the cup in 2006 - and that is one reason he was anxious to join.

"I'd seen the way Glasgow played last year and was really excited about it," he said. "It was a great chance for me to come and take on a new challenge - everybody wants a new challenge and I was delighted that Glasgow showed an interest as well. They made it happen pretty quickly so I was happy with that.

"I just want to play, it does not matter what age you are, you want to play. I am in charge of my own destiny. I just have to set out my stall and show what I am worth and what I can do. If I can help a few of the young lads along the way of course I would love to do that. I would get pleasure from developing players as well, but make no mistake I am here because I want to play.

"With Munster we would analyse the opposition and you could not say Glasgow had one chink anywhere, forwards or backs. It is a multifaceted team and a multifaceted squad. You could not put your finger on one thing, you had to stop them in all areas - you could stop the pack and they could show you up in the backs. They have threats everywhere and internationals everywhere."

Glasgow have certainly taken that first step. They have reached the league knockout games in four out of the last five seasons, reaching the final for the first time last May. The problem is that every time they have found themselves facing Leinster in Dublin and have yet to crack the secret of winning those big away knockout matches, just as they have yet to crack the secret of winning consistently in Europe - where they face Montpellier, Bath and Toulouse in this year's revamped Champions Cup.

What the club need desperately to do is learn how to win those matches when both sides are at full strength and absolutely flat out, knowing there are no second chances. The Warriors managed it last year at home, against Munster with Downey in the opposition ranks, but will not clinch anything until they can do it at opposition grounds a well.

Downey himself has been settling into his new life in Glasgow, boosted by the buzz around the Commonwealth Games that certainly made his introduction to the city a more vibrant experience than most people can boast.

"With the Commonwealth Games going on, there has been a real buzz around the place and everyone has been great," he said. "I have really enjoyed the city, it has been great and the boys have helped me find my way around it.

"I got to the road race at the end, the rest of the time I was flying around trying to organise accommodation. It was great to see, though, and if we as a team can feed off the back of that excitement - the [rugby] sevens were attracting 60,000 a session - that would be fantastic. If we can get some of them coming to Scotstoun, it would help a lot."

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