Listening to Henry Pyrgos talk about ‘nailing England’ sounds somewhat strange for two reasons: firstly, just a couple of years ago he was scratching around in the lower echelons of the leagues and secondly, he speaks the Queen’s with a Home Counties accent.
But it’s a measure of how far the 22-year-old scrum-half has come with Glasgow Warriors that Chris Cusiter’s international absence is no longer perennially feared by head coach Sean Lineen.
Pyrgos, in his 12 appearances in the RaboDirect PRO12 this season, has impressed to the extent that he earned a Scotland A call-up and was part of the side that crushed England Saxons 35-0 earlier this month.
And while he may not know his neeps from his tatties, Pyrgos has no split loyalties. Born in Dorset to an English father and a Scotland-born mother who was raised down south, Pyrgos explored his ancestry after he was overlooked at national level, south of the border, as a junior.
Again rejection came however and Pyrgos didn’t make the grade at Scotland U18 level. A year abroad in New Zealand followed before he found his feet at Loughborough University – and the Scotland set-up finally took a chance on the flashy scrum-half.
And ever since, Pyrgos has pledged allegiance to the Scottish Saltire.
“Maybe I do get a little bit of stick from the lads about my accent but nothing over the top,” said Pyrgos, who has helped the Warriors to fourth in the RaboDirect PRO12 table – good enough for a play-off spot.
“But I’ve played age-group level for rugby and consider myself Scottish – it was great to be part of the Scotland A set-up and it was even better to nail the Saxons.
“And as far as the RaboDirect PRO12 is concerned, this year – the draw with Connacht aside – has been fantastic.
“We’re still very much in with a good shout of reaching the play-offs and I’ve relished getting as much game time as I can, it’s fantastic to learn from people like Chris [Cusiter] and I feel ready to step in when he is away.”
That draw with Connacht – Glasgow’s last league match where Niall O’Connor’s last-gasp kick levelled things up – still does not sit easily with Pyrgos.
By his own admission, it was not his finest match but with European champions Leinster due at Firhill on Saturday, there is little time to dwell further on the disappointment.
The Warriors brought an end to Leinster’s regular season winning run at the RDS earlier this season – a streak that stretched almost two calendar years, and while the Irish side got their revenge with victories in both Heineken Cup pool clashes, there is extra needle to Saturday’s clash.
“We got a great result against Leinster last time out and it was a similar situation with both teams missing a few players with the World Cup,” he added.
“I personally didn’t think I had a very good game against Connacht so I have to try and put things right against Leinster – those are the kind of games you love to play in.
“We all know how strong they are and what a run [18 matches unbeaten] they’re on at the moment but we fancy our chances against anyone at Firhill.”