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Hat-trick hero Seymour is not resting on his laurels

S O you've established yourself as a top Test player with eight international appearances and three tries over the past year.

Tommy Seymour accepts that competition for places is fierce as Glasgow prepare for the season's denouement. Picture: SNS/SRU
Tommy Seymour accepts that competition for places is fierce as Glasgow prepare for the season's denouement. Picture: SNS/SRU

So you've helped your club to recover from a mid-season dip, propelling them to second place in the league with seven consecutive victories. So you've just delivered a superb all-round performance in a tricky away fixture, capping it with the first hat-trick of your professional career.

So you're a shoo-in selection for the next game? Eh, no.

After the astonishing year Tommy Seymour has enjoyed, the fact he still has to fight for his place at Glasgow Warriors is remarkable. Telling, too, in terms of measuring the strength in depth at the club. Time was when only a serious medical emergency, or just possibly a fatality, could remove a player from a winning Scottish side, but Seymour's celebrations after his three tries against Treviso on Friday were restrained by the knowledge that he has some serious rivals for a Warriors wing berth breathing down his neck. Even with DTH Van der Merwe still sidelined by a shoulder injury - the Canadian expects to be fit in time for the start of the new season - Glasgow coach Gregor Townsend is not short of options as far as strike runners are concerned. Sean Lamont is expected to come back into contention this week, while it is worth remembering that the 38-16 win in the Stadio Monigo was achieved without Sean Maitland in the starting line-up. If Seymour is playing the best rugby of his life at the moment, it is simply because he has to.

"The competition is really good, really healthy," the 25-year-old explained. "Everyone knows that there is competition in the squad, with players coming in and out pretty regularly and slotting in well. It seems almost seamless. That's because the guys are used to competing week in and week out in training and fixtures.

"You become accustomed to stepping up and making sure that if you are selected one week you have to put in a good performance or someone will take your shirt the next week."

Seymour learned that lesson last season. In prolific form during the PRO12 run-in, he was picked for Glasgow's final regular-season match, helping the side to a 20-3 victory over Connacht. But when the team was chosen for the semi-final against Leinster, he could not even find a place on the bench.

"Having someone like Sean Maitland, and the quality he brings, meant he pipped me for selection," Seymour recalled. "But that was fair because he came on as a sub against Connacht and scored one of the tries of the season.

"That's the way we work it, that's the selection process, that's our squad. You accept it because you know when there are guys of that quality it's pretty hard not to pick them for a semi-final.

"Sure, it was disappointing not to play in the semi, but I went over to Dublin and watched the game with the boys. I never once felt bitter. I was just pleased with the way we played and felt gutted along with the rest of the squad that we didn't manage to beat Leinster away."

They might have to overcome the same opponents this season, but at the final stage this time round. A win over Zebre at Scotstoun on Friday will give Glasgow a home semi-final, and the form suggests that another victory at that stage would mean a return trip to Dublin to face Leinster with the title at stake.

However, Seymour is such hot property at the moment, at the top of his game as a defender as well as a taker of tries, that the only persuasive case for leaving him out against Zebre is to keep him fresh for what comes next.

Are Glasgow better prepared now than they were a year ago? Specifically, did they learn lessons in that 17-15 loss in Dublin that can be put into practice this year? Seymour certainly thinks so.

"Not every season is like the last," he said. "We got to a stage in the semi-final last year when we put in a great performance but didn't get the win, but you have to use things like that as a rehearsal.

"You have to use them for the mindset and experience so that next year you get that little bit more hungry and that little bit more angry because they didn't go the way you wanted the last time.

"So you use those memories and ideas to spur you on. That's what we're doing. After playing away last season we realise how important a home semi can be. It's been shown in the past that the home semi-finalists have a bit of an edge, but looking at the other guys in the top four it will be a hard game, no matter what."

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