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Pyrgos has put pain of Toulon well behind him

With a Scotland squad due to be announced today and the champions of Europe pitching up at Scotstoun on Saturday, it's fair to say that Henry Pyrgos has much to look forward to this week.

Henry Pyrgos has been a model of consistency at scrum-half this season. Picture: SNS
Henry Pyrgos has been a model of consistency at scrum-half this season. Picture: SNS

But with Toulon coming to town, it is also understandable that he doesn't want to spend much time looking the other way.

Three months ago, Pyrgos was the surprise choice at scrum-half when Glasgow opened their Heineken Cup campaign against the French side in the Stade Felix Mayol. It should have been one of the greatest days in the 24-year-old's life, but it ended in ignominy after just 40 minutes when, with the Warriors trailing 34-0, he was replaced at half-time, Niko Matawalu moving on from the wing to take his place.

Of course, Glasgow produced a stirring second-half comeback, losing 51-28 at the end but collecting four tries and a consolation bonus point. But for Pyrgos, it was an afternoon of mixed emotions.

"From a personal point of view it wasn't the best," said Pyrgos, demonstrating a considerable gift for understatement. "It was a great stadium and a great occasion, but I felt that I didn't do myself justice. As a team, it was great to come back and get a bonus point, but we didn't play as you have to against a top side. We made mistakes, but that's what it's like at this level of rugby. I wouldn't say I was demoralised. You know it's going to be a good test because they are a top side with quality players all over the park and at that level of rugby you are going to pay if you make a few mistakes."

At that point, Pyrgos seemed to have slipped well down the Warriors' scrum-half pecking order, third on the bill behind Matawalu and Chris Cusiter. Since then, however, the gap between the contenders for the Glasgow No.9 jersey has unquestionably narrowed. Neither Matawalu nor Cusiter has really hit top form this season, while Pyrgos has been a model of consistency. It may not count for much on Gregor Townsend's coaching watch but, after starting last weekend's away win over Exeter Chiefs, he is currently the man in possession.

And yet, he is taking nothing for granted, not least because he knows well just how good the players he is up against can be. "I watched and admired Chris while I was growing up, so it's great to be competing with him," said Pyrgos. "Everything about him is great. He's a top player.

"Niko has great skills and great game awareness so I can pick up things from him too. Obviously you pick each other's brains about what to do in different areas of the pitch, why should we do that or not do that. You're just learning all the time."

It seems inconceivable that Pyrgos, who brought his cap count up to 10 when he came on as a replacement during Scotland's autumn Test win over Japan, could possibly be left out of the Six Nations training squad Scott Johnson names at Murrayfield early this afternoon. For obvious reasons, however, his thoughts right now are more focused on getting stuck into Toulon at Scotstoun this weekend.

Or maybe not so obvious. "It's not about revenge," he said firmly. "We've got things to play for because there is a chance we can get into the Amlin Cup. It's just great for everyone at the club to have the Heineken Cup champions coming to our ground.

"It's awesome and we are really looking forward to it. Training is intense because guys are pushing for places to start. Guys want to get in the team and get things moving forward.

"They are a top side, the best team going in Europe at the moment. It's going to be a huge test for us. But we have developed massively as a team and in the last few weeks we have started to play a bit better.

"So we will go out and do the things we do each week, concentrate on ourselves and try to put them under as much pressure as possible. We'll see where that takes us. Hopefully it's enough for a win."

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