RaboDirect Pro12: Glasgow’s Tommy Seymour casting aside Ulster past

RaboDirect Pro12: Tommy Seymour casting aside past allegiances to Ulster ahead of Glasgow's clash against Irish province

By Gareth Llewellyn

Tommy Seymour insists he won’t let his past allegiances to Ulster get in the way of a Glasgow Warriors victory when the two clubs clash in the RaboDirect Pro12 on Friday.

The American-born 25-year-old began his rugby career with the Irish province, having come through Down High School and the Ulster academy, even representing Ireland U19 before a move to the west of Scotland in 2011.

It’s just another game in terms of me playing

Tommy Seymour

Despite his nomadic upbringing, which included spells in Dubai, the pacey winger qualified for Scotland through his mother who was born in Glasgow and Seymour.

Now capped eight times for Scotland and having made almost 50 appearances for the Warriors, Seymour isn’t troubled by the thought of playing against his former side in a match being dubbed ‘a cup final’ by players of both clubs.

“It’s got to the stage now where it’s been such a long time since I left and I’m so familiar with Glasgow playing Ulster, and I’ve played in so many occasions against each other, whether it be Heineken Cup or league action, it’s just another game in terms of me playing,” Seymour said.

“The build-up may be a little bit more edgy and it maybe means a little bit more to me than it does on other occasions but, that being said, this is a huge game no matter who you are.

“Regardless of your position, in terms of us as a club, we couldn’t get any bigger than this, so we’ve got to go out and perform as if we’re playing in a final.”

After two home matches were postponed over the winter, the Warriors have been playing catch up over their play-off rivals and a succession of ‘biggest match of the season’ wins have seen Gregor Townsend’s side overcome four-time champions Ospreys to break back into the top four.

The message may be the same from the coaches ahead of Ulster’s visit, but Seymour concedes that there is some logic to it.

“We appreciate that the next game becomes the most important one when you’ve put yourself in a position to make it,” he added.

“If we go out and have a big win against Munster, that was the most important game and Ulster only becomes the most important game with the performance we put in against Munster.

“The fact that we’ve put ourselves in a stronger position to move ourselves forward, a stronger position to move ourselves into a home semi-final spot and a stronger position to try and get a play-off place, we need to keep that intensity up, to tell ourselves we’re going into the last game of the season – a must-win game in order to put ourselves in the best position possible.

“It would be lovely to go out against Ulster and put on a performance like we did [in a 35-17 thriller] against the Ospreys at the tail-end of last season at home, but the realistic side of that is Ulster have a very good defence, very good attackers as well so we need to make sure we win the game.”

Ulster moved into second place in the Pro12 last week with a convincing 58-12 win over provincial rivals Connacht as Andrew Trimble ran in three of their eight tries and Seymour—who was behind the Irish international in the pecking order at Ravenhill—is well aware of the attacking threat they’ll bring to Scotstoun Stadium.

“They’re very dangerous players, there’s no doubt about that,” Seymour added. “I don’t think you need to have trained alongside them to realise and appreciate the skills they have and the finishing ability they have right away across the backline and some of their forwards as well.

“They’ve got huge finishing power. They’ve got good set moves and they retain the ball well, so we’ve got to make sure we go out there and put in a huge defensive performance and live up to our namesake as a good defensive side.

“We’ve got to make sure we go out and attack and do what we did against Munster and convert pressure into points and show them a little bit of what we have as well.”

Much has been made about the Warriors strength in depth, which has helped them overturn half-time deficits on no fewer than six occasions this season, and Seymour, who has scored two tries in his 10 appearances in the Pro12 this season, believes the competition for places is a driving force behind their ability to grind out wins.

“We have guys across the park who want to play, want to put the shirt on and want to compete,” he added. “The beauty of that is that the guy who has the shirt knows he has to perform incredibly well or he is going to lose it the next week.

“Nobody resting on their laurels is one of the strongest things you can have about a squad and we have it. It is something that over the last few years that has pushed us over some of the winnings line and got us into the position to go forward.

“The intensity levels are always quite high but going into the business end of the season where play-off places and home semi-finals or away semi-finals are coming more to the fore means we know every week has to be a cup final, every week has to be at such a high level to keep us in the position we are in now, let alone trying to push on for something more.

“We need to make sure we perform well or otherwise the things we have in our hands at the moment could easily slip through.”

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