Peter Horne hits high notes at No10 despite Glasgow defeat

It may not have been the result Glasgow Warriors were looking for; or, in many respects, the performance. One positive Dave Rennie, the head coach, does feel he can take out of the game, however, is the confidence that Peter Horne can slot into the stand-off slot when Finn Russell heads for Paris in the summer.
Montpellier's Fijian winger Nemani Nadolo, right, vies with Glasgow's Scottish wing Tommy Seymour. Picture: AFP/Getty ImagesMontpellier's Fijian winger Nemani Nadolo, right, vies with Glasgow's Scottish wing Tommy Seymour. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
Montpellier's Fijian winger Nemani Nadolo, right, vies with Glasgow's Scottish wing Tommy Seymour. Picture: AFP/Getty Images

Rennie has made no bones about being impressed by Horne and had talked before the game about being anxious to have a look at how he performed under the pressure of a game of European intensity. With a personal contribution of a try and two conversions, he showed enough to satisfy his coach.

Horne himself maintains he really does not care where he plays as long as he is on the field. He has slotted into the inside centre position more often recently but feels equally at home at stand-off and is more than willing to give the position a serious run if that is what is wanted.

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“I just do what the boss wants, I only want to contribute to this squad,” he insisted after the game. “Whatever role I can do that in is fine by me. Dave [Rennie] said it was a good chance for me to have a crack in a big pressure game and I was happy with certain things but there is still a fair bit to work on.

“I don’t know what the plan is moving forward, though he has spoken to me about playing a bit more at ten. I would love to do that. I enjoy playing there. It is good getting on the ball a bit more. I guess I have never had a proper crack at it. I have just had to take opportunities when they have come up so it will be interesting. It is a challenge I would be more than willing to take on.”

People sometimes forget that Horne emerged through the age group system as a stand-off who could slot in at full-back. It was only when he arrived at Glasgow that he started to get regular game time as a centre. Even then, the way he plays is more of a New Zealand second five eighth and playmaker than a traditional British crash-ball 12.

“Yes, I feel I can slot back in there,” he added. “When I am playing more at 12, it never bothers me jumping back in. I feel I have the skillset to do that.

“It’s is just a case of trying to sharpen it up and constantly work on things. After games I have things I constantly work on and it’s would be nice to go into the next week being able to put it into practice rather than waiting three or four weeks to do that. I would be up for the challenge.”

Certainly, if he does look to shift, it is going to be a rather different style of Glasgow game to the one they play when Russell is there. For the first hour in Montpellier, when Horne was on the field, it was a more calculated game plan, when Russell took over for the final 20 minutes, all of a sudden it was a lot more harum-scarum with the ball whizzing wide much earlier.

Both had their advantages and if Glasgow could have defended against either the driving maul or Nemani Nadolo, the 21 stone Fijian wing, either would have been enough to win the game.

It wasn’t, though, and that is entirely down to those two factors. They took the lead three times in the first half through Fraser Brown on his return from injury, Peter Horne and Nick Grigg, but twice were pegged back when Montpellier drove lineouts and Nadolo and Romain Ruffenach, the hooker went over.

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Still, they had the lead at the break when Vern Cotter, the Montpellier coach, told his team to get Nadolo into the game more. Twice he left a trail of devastation in his wake to set up tries for Henry Immelmann, the replacement centre. When Benoit Paillaugue, the scrum-half also scored after a charged down kick, the home side were home and dry.

George Horne, Peter’s brother, did pinch one back for Glasgow, but even four tries was not enough against that sort of defensive frailty.

“Another game we feel we should have won,” Peter Horne added. “We played some really good rugby at times. We were just not clinical enough. That has been the story of our European Cup. You want to win these games, be in the latter stages of these competitions so we were pretty disappointed.”