Glasgow Warriors lock Tom Ryder is champing at the bit to get stuck into RaboDirect PRO12 action again when the Scarlets visit Firhill on Thursday in a crunch encounter for both teams’ play-off ambitions.
The Warriors are flying high in the league in fourth but have the Scarlets snapping at their heels just one point behind.
Ryder heads into the game off the back of a storming performance for Scotland A in their 33-0 defeat of England Saxons but now his full attention is on extending that form into the clash against Scarlets.
“We are out of the Heineken Cup so our focus is the league,” he said. “These are huge games while the Six Nations is on, this is make or break for us.
“The Scarlets are pushing for a top-four position. It is almost a ‘six-pointer’ like in football.
“Our last match was close (16-14 to the Scarlets), we had two players sin binned but that was more through the Scarlets’ pressure than our ill discipline.
“We know the Scarlets are a good team, they’ve got a good squad but they are missing a few players to Six Nations commitments.
“It was a fantastic result for Scotland A, we had great training week before. Just everyone came together on the day and put in a fantastic performance.
“We knew how they would play as we were able to watch the footage of their match against the Wolfhounds.
“The Saxons’ pack we knew was a strong area, we had to match them there and we gave our backs good quick ball and they did the rest.”
Nottingham-born Ryder played four seasons at Saracens and sees similarities between his current team and the champions of England.
“The two sides have different budgets but Saracens have had a strong squad for a couple of years and now that’s starting to happen to Glasgow.
“We are quite lucky to have two number tens like Jacko (Ruaridh Jackson) and Duncan Weir.
“That is the difference between the side now and the one two years ago – we have strength in depth. Our players have a lot of experience now. Hopefully Jacko will put us in the right areas and we can play from there.”
At 6ft 5in Ryder is one of the smaller locks at the Warriors, but believes it is possible to follow Alastair Kellock (6ft 9in) and Richie Gray (6ft 10in) into the Test arena and win a full cap for Scotland.
“I have got to play well for Glasgow first and hopefully will get a chance at some stage,” he said.
“You can’t sit around worrying about whether you will though.
“It’s down to you to make sure you’re in the shop window so if there a drop in form or an injury you can get a chance.”