Guinness PRO12: Warriors taking nothing for granted, insists Pyrgos
Scrum-half cautious ahead of Cardiff Blues clash as league leaders target perfect retirement gift for Al Kellock and Dougie Hall
Henry Pyrgos insists that Glasgow Warriors are taking nothing for granted ahead of round 19 of the Guinness PRO12 this weekend.
The Scotland scrum-half came off the bench in the league leaders’ thrilling 34-34 draw with Leinster in Dublin 12 days ago after two months on the sidelines with a medial ligament problem.
Every team wants to be in that play-off spot. We’re obviously in a good position at the moment, but we take nothing for granted.
Warriors scrum-half Henry Pyrgos on top two finish
Despite starting the Warriors’ final two games last season, the depth of their squad meant Pyrgos was one of around 30 unlucky Warriors players to miss out on both the home semi-final win over Munster and PRO12 final defeat to Leinster.
And the 25-year-old is keen to get another chance at the helm as the Warriors host an out-of-sorts Cardiff Blues outfit in their penultimate home game of the regular season on Friday knowing that every game becomes a must-win situation for the club while, behind the scenes, competition hots up between the 50 or so players fighting for selection for the big games.
It will be an emotional night for the club in front of a capacity crowd at their Scotstoun Stadium fortress as they celebrate the enormous contribution of veteran forward duo Al Kellock and Dougie Hall in what could be their final home appeaerances before retiring at the end of the season.
But Pyrgos insists that they’re focusing on getting a win against the Blues, which would be their eighth successive league victory over the region, and extend their unbeaten home run in the PRO12 to 18 games.
“It’s great, it’s what you want,” Pyrgos said of the tough season run-in.
“You want the big games at the end of the season. Every team wants to be in that play-off spot.
“We’re obviously in a good position at the moment, but we take nothing for granted.
“We’ve got some hard games. We’re fully concentrating on Cardiff this weekend and Connacht coming up, so two tough games in the next few weeks.”
While Gregor Townsend’s men are two points ahead of second-place Ulster in the league table with four rounds of the regular season still to play, the Warriors face tough away trips to Galway and Swansea to take on Connacht and the Ospreys before welcoming Ulster to Scotstoun Stadium on the final day of the season.
Cardiff have always been a tough opponent for us…They’ve got a lot of good players, and we need to be at our best to get a win.
With their impressive home record, hosting the Blues is arguably the easiest of their four remaining matches.
Having scored four tries at Leinster last time out, the inevitable talk of a bonus-point win against the hapless Blues is already on the lips of upbeat Warriors fans, many of whom are already booked up for the PRO12 final on 30 May at Ulster’s Kingspan Stadium, but Pyrgos admits going for a bonus-point win against the Blues is something the players have to work hard to earn rather than expecting to achieve it.
“We won’t really be thinking like that,” he added.
“It’s a bit of a cliche, but you go out there, we concentrate on the win, get the scoreboard ticking over first, and then, if we start to pull away from a team – if that’s possible – we can look to throw the ball around maybe and pick up four tries.
“We’re in a good position at the moment, but things change quick.
“You see throughout the league there’s a lot of teams picking up bonus points, so you never know what’s going to happen.
“We just need to concentrate on this, get the win, and keep looking ahead and trying to improve.
“You can’t stand still because teams will overtake you.”
Much was expected of the Blues before the season began, with many pundits tipping them to challenge for the play-offs.
The signing of veteran Wales tighthead prop Adam Jones, Argentine duo Joaquín Tuculet and Lucas Amorosino, and former New Zealand U20 outside-half Gareth Anscombe, all offered hope that the region were capable of going somewhere, but questionable player selection, injuries and a lack of consistency has proved costly to leave them languishing 10th in the PRO12 table.
As well as struggling on the field, the BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park outfit lost director of rugby Mark Hammett in February, just six months into his tenure, with coaches Paul John and Dale McIntosh again stepping up to lead the club until the end of the season as another global search is launched for a successor.
With their European Challenge Cup dream ending in defeat to rivals Newport Gwent Dragons in the quarter-final stage on Saturday, the Blues now have nothing but pride to play for in their last four games.
The Blues go into the game without Rhys Patchell, who has not started the return-to-play protocols following his hefty head knock against Ulster, while prop Gethin Jenkins is a major doubt with a calf strain, but they still have plenty of potent weapons available to trouble the Warriors up front, including flanker Sam Warburton.
Despite their notable problems, and no league win on the road since the opening day of the season back in September, Pyrgos still expects a tough examination from the Welsh region, who did the double over the Warriors in last season’s Heineken Cup campaign.
“Cardiff have always been a tough opponent for us,” he added.
“We learnt that the hard way a couple of years ago in the Heineken Cup, and earlier on in the season we had a tough game, so we know they’ll be hugely physical.
“They’ve got a lot of good players, and we need to be at our best to get a win.
“We know it’s going to be hugely physical that first 20-30 minutes, and hopefully we can get on top of them and win the game.”