Rob Harley’s account of the try that sent Glasgow Warriors on the way to their only major trophy success speaks volumes about the man and the rugby player.

“I remember it well,” he says of that eighth minute touchdown that put them on course for a 31-13 defeat of Munster in the Pro12 final four years ago.

“I think Leone (Nakarawa) burst through about five or six tacklers and just passed to me when everyone else was beaten, so it wasn’t much to do with me. It was a great score.”

Self-deprecating, ever willing, no grand ideas about his abilities, but always on hand to do whatever is required to help the team. That is why coaches and team-mates love having the lock cum flanker in their ranks; why Harley is the sort of player who can allow the more gifted, such as the brilliant Fijian Nakarawa, to flourish; why he has made a record 212 appearances for Glasgow Warriors when still only 28.

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In that enabling role of encouraging others to perform, he believes his team-mates need to recapture something of the spirit of 2015 ahead of this match.

“It’ll be trying to perform the way that we can and we need quick ball to be able to stress teams, so we’re not afraid to play and if we see space we have the runners that can hurt teams from anywhere on the park,” Harley observed.

“It’s hard to judge the teams against each other. I think what we can do and what we have is that we have guys who played across both teams, who remember the feeling of being the final and having that big pressure game.

“Last time we were in that situation we managed to play well and were uninhibited so we’ve been training this week, making sure we’re sharp and hitting our stride on Saturday.”

While he has been with Glasgow throughout a decade in which they have, with that solitary exception, failed to move beyond being perennial domestic play-off contenders who are unable to mix it with Europe’s best, Harley insists that there is a belief that they can overcome the most successful team in the Continent, winners of four Champions Cups, a Challenge Cup and five Celtic League/Pro12/Pro14 titles.

“If you look at the way we’ve played in that last few games we’ve focused in, we know that we have the quality in the side that can win the title,” he claimed.


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“We’ve talked about it all year and now we’re one game away. Leinster have got a lot of quality, it’ll be a huge battle for us, but it’s what we’ve been building for all season, the whole squad.”

He acknowledged that they have, under current head coach Dave Rennie, identified the need to toughen up, rather than merely hoping that the pace of play that frequently overwhelms the lesser teams in the Pro14, will be sufficient to compete with the elite.

“I think you see the emphasis. When we analyse ourselves, when we analyse what we need in games we’re always talking about the physicality in contact, the brutality in defence that you need at this level,” he said.

“At this end of the season you have to put your body on the line and leave everything out there, so that’s what we’ve been looking at the last couple of weeks. It’s a measurement we take pride in, in the squad, of how we’re performing.”

There is, though recognition that facing this Leinster side is of another order against what will be a very different team that the one they beat when registering a first victory in Dublin in eight years just last month, the second of last weekend’s Pro14 semi-finals having driven that point home as Munster, who pushed Glasgow all the way in the race for top spot in Conference A, were ultimately over-powered at the RDS.

“It was physical rugby and it’ll be a huge challenge for us,” Harley said of the way Leinster got the better of their neighbours.


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“The advantage for us is that they have to come to Glasgow. We played them a few weeks ago and got a win over there, but they’ll be charged up as well. It’s the last game of the season for everyone, there are guys leaving, a charged atmosphere. We’re all excited about that.”

On that note, there will be an extra element to Saturday’s match as Stuart Hogg, one of the few who have been a Warrior for as long as Harley, both having joined the club in 2010, plays his last match for them and he will be missed.

“In a lot of ways he’s irreplaceable because of the talent he has, but also the energy,” said Harley.

“He’ll be the first guy to say he’s not always positive, he gets stroppy about it, but it’s because he wants to win every game we’re playing, that includes football games or even if we’re just kicking a tennis ball around, he wants to win.

“That’s a big thing in our squad, it drives the winning mentality. It’s a huge loss for us but hopefully we’ll sent him off with the right note.”

It is also an opportunity for supporters to pay tribute to Hogg and to the entire squad and the hope is that their support can make a difference.

“I think the big thing is we’re in Glasgow and we’ll pack it out with our fans and it’s exciting that it’s going to be our home fans and they’ll get to see us in that big game,” said Harley.

“The last time it was over in Ireland and we had huge support there, it was like a home game. This time it’s in Glasgow and we’re looking forward to what support we get.”