ROSS Thompson has made quite an impact since breaking into the Glasgow team at the turn of the year, making the No 10 jersey his own and turning in some assured performances. Even so, the 22-year-old was surprised to learn last night that he has been named the McCrea Financial Services Player of the Season after an online vote by Warriors supporters.

Success has certainly come swiftly for Thompson, who only signed his first professional contract in February and is now in line to make his Scotland debut on the summer tour. This time a year ago he was not even sure if he had a future in full-time rugby, and contemplated concentrating on his law degree instead of agreeing to another year as an academy player at Scotstoun.

“During lockdown I was maybe swaying a bit whether I would take the contract,” he explained. “I wasn’t really sure how things were going, and I’ve also got university work, so I could have put a bit of focus into that if I didn’t take rugby on. 

“I study law - next year will be my last. I’ve always looked on it as a good fall-back if rugby doesn’t work out the way I want it to, and obviously rugby is quite a short career as well.

“I still would have played - I wouldn’t have been able to give it up. I would have hoped to play Super6 or something like that. But a couple of people said ‘Just go for it, give it everything’.”

He did exactly that, and after a debut off the bench in the New Year defeat by Edinburgh at Murrayfield, he made his first start in the return fixture a fortnight later, contributing 13 points in his team’s 23-22 victory. Inexperienced players tend to be rested after a few games, but Thompson has shown such consistency that he has stayed in the side ever since.

“When I got my first chance I wanted to get as many games as possible,” he continued. “I definitely didn’t expect to play every game for the rest of the season.

“I would have been pretty happy with four or five games this season. I think I’ve played 14 now, which has been great: I’ve learned so much over the last couple of months. 

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“It’s been good fun this year. I’ve been really lucky. The stand-offs here have so much experience - there’s Adam Hastings, Pete Horne, Ian Keatley was here as well - they helped me so much. And the other players around me as well. It makes such a big difference playing with experienced people.

“As a team in general we’ve played a lot better, particularly in the last couple of weeks,” Thompson added, referring to a Rainbow Cup run that saw Glasgow bounce back from an opening-day defeat by Benetton to win four games in a row. “As stand-off, when the team plays well, maybe you get a bit more credit for it. And the same works the other way - when the team’s not playing well, you take some of the heat.

“We pulled ourselves together after that Benetton game and we managed to get four good performances, which was a good way to end the season. Hopefully we can go into next season carrying on that momentum a bit more and try and build on some of those performances.”

While relatively pleased with his own progress, Thompson expected that a team-mate who had played over the course of the campaign would get the accolade of McCrea Financial Services Player of the Season ahead of him. Enrique Pieretto, Ryan Wilson, and twice previous winner Rob Harley were the other three on the short list, and he thinks there were also other members of the squad who would have been more deserving of a place on it than himself.

“It was definitely a surprise to win it - I only played for half the season. And I’ve also never had a chance to play in front of the fans either, so it was a surprise even to be nominated as well. I thought there were a lot of other players who would have been nominated ahead of me.”

GLASGOW WARRIORS McCREA FINANCIAL SERVICES PLAYER OF THE SEASON PREVIOUS WINNERS:

2020: George Horne

2019: Ali Price

2018: George Horne

2017: Ali Price

2016: Simone Favaro

2015: Niko Matawalu

2014: Rob Harley

2013: Niko Matawalu

2012: Chris Fusaro

2011: Rob Harley

2010: Dan Parks 

McCrea Financial Services sponsor Glasgow Warriors and provide a wide range of financial advisory services including mortgage, pension and retirement planning advice. See www.mccreafs.co.uk to contact them for more information.

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