George Horne wasn’t exactly over the moon with his performance for Glasgow Warriors in their 50-8 win over Zebre last Friday night, but he did acknowledge that it was good to get a run-around after being left out of the match-day squad for Scotland’s defeat in France the previous weekend, and it was also gratifying to be part of a team which dug deep to find a way of winning ugly.

The scrum-half has a stellar reputation as one of the most exciting players with ball in hand in Scottish rugby, whose eye for a gap and speed off the mark is a major threat for whatever team he plays for.

He showed off those skills as an impact sub for Ben White as Scotland finished strongly to seal wins over England and Wales during the first two rounds of this year’s Six Nations, but was then dropped for the France game two weekends ago, with national head coach Gregor Townsend opting instead to have Ali Price’s experience and game-management on the bench for the toughest game of the championship to date.

Scotland fell 19 points behind in the first quarter of that match, before hauling themselves back into the contest, and a Finn Russell try left the visitors just four points adrift with 13 minutes to go.

All the momentum was with Scotland at this point, but they failed to kick on and ended up missing out on even a losing bonus-point as consolation for their efforts when Gael Fickou crossed for an injury-time try to seal a 32-21 home win.

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Price shouldn’t carry the can for Scotland coming up short – in fact, his excellent clearance back to halfway from the restart after Russell’s try was exactly the type of contribution Townsend was looking for from the 2021 Lion – but the coach will also be weighing up whether a livewire contribution from Horne during that final period might have helped Scotland escape the French bearhug they found themselves trapped in.

For his part, Horne believes he can adapt his game to suit whatever challenge the team faces – regardless of whether that is helping chase down an Ireland lead or protecting a Scottish lead – if he receives a recall this week.

“I do like a fast-paced, high-tempo game, but you’ve got to be able to play lots of different ways against different teams,” he acknowledged.

“I wasn’t the most pleased with my performance against Zebre last weekend, there was a few little errors here and there, but I was pleased that the team did what was needed to get the win in a scrappy game.

“We were probably a little bit disjointed in attack and didn’t play our most fluid game, but our big boys were outstanding at scrum and maul time, so it was nice to be able to lean on that. Being able to win a few different ways is never a bad thing.

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“Hopefully I can now have a good training week and fingers crossed do enough to get myself back into the frame to play against Ireland.

“Everyone wants to play every week for Scotland, especially in these massive games, so I was disappointed to be dropped against France, but I also understand that we’ve got a lot of depth at scrum-half and good competition there,” he continued.

“Gregor gave me a bit of feedback, so I’ve got a couple of things to work on there and hopefully I can show that I should be his man going forward.

 “To play in those first two games and get two wins, and feel like I contributed well off the bench, was really pleasing. We’re a really fit squad at the moment so we want to take advantage of that later in the game by upping the tempo, which suits the way I play. So, hopefully I can get another crack at it this week.”

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Horne has also demonstrated this season that he can add value to any team he plays in as a goal-kicker, and while Russell has been deadly off the tee so far in this Six Nations, it is important to have a back-up option.

“I missed a couple at the weekend, which is frustrating, but kicking the goals is something I’ve always done, since I started playing rugby, and I’ve enjoyed having a chance to do it again regularly this season with Glasgow,” said Horne.

“I think I’m up in the high 80 percentage success rate for kicking, so that is something every team needs. It’s another string to my bow – I’m not just a high-pace, high-tempo player – I’ve got different attributes.”