Glasgow Warriors are flying high in fourth place in the RaboDirect PRO12 following their first ever win against the Ospreys in Swansea last weekend – none of which should come as a surprise, according to head coach Sean Lineen.
Glasgow finished 11th in the league last year but World Cup call-ups for the likes of stalwarts Richie Gray, John Barclay and Graeme Morrison allowed Lineen to expose younger blood to the league’s rigours at the start of the season.
Now, with five games to go, Lineen’s youth policy is paying off and he is full of praise for the effect his young guns have had this season.
“The World Cup gave us the opportunity to try out lots of young players and we’re benefitting from that now because it down to them that we’re in our high position,” said Lineen.
“Guys like Chris Fusaro and Tom Ryder are two who have put their hands up particularly this year.
“But there’s also Duncan Weir, Tommy Seymour and Henry Pyrgos who are all very young, even our prop Jon Welsh and, of course, Stuart Hogg.
“If you’re good enough you’re old enough and he (Hogg) has got the right attitude.
“He came here when he was just 18 and he had the best skills of any of our players even then.
“He’s quick, he’s brave and he’s got fantastic feet and a great pass.
“And he’s really comfortable on the ball which is rare for a young Scottish player.”
Although Lineen admits he enjoys seeing his charges do well for their country he is more focused on getting the most out of them for Glasgow and in turn getting Glasgow safely into the play-offs.
“If we win our last five games we can put ourselves in the play-offs,” he said.
“We’ve got Aironi next, who are going to be seriously tough, and then Cardiff.
“It is all about us however, we have to just keep on winning the games.
“We’ve had a couple of draws we should have turned into wins this season but we’ve picked up four wins away from home, which you need to do to get into the play-offs.
“It was a pretty hostile environment against the Ospreys in Swansea last game so it was good to get our first win there. Now the only place we haven’t won in is Treviso.”
And Lineen doesn’t just have success in 2012 in his sights – he also has a wise eye on Glasgow’s future and only makes new signings if he believes they fit the Glasgow mould.
One such player is Tim Swinson, the Newcastle Falcons lock, brought in to replace Richie Gray, who is departing for Sale Sharks at the end of the season.
“Richie is fully committed to this squad for the rest of the season but we’ve signed Tim Swinson and we’re delighted,” said Lineen.
“We have a certain criteria of what we want when we want to sign someone.
“It’s not just about the player for us but also the person.
“One of the things we do look at is their training ethic. Tim is a tough lock, he was Newcastle’s player of the season last year and he’s Scottish qualified which is a bonus.
“We’ve also got Viliami Ma'afu, who had an outstanding World Cup for Tonga in the games against France and the All Blacks.
“He’s also represented Tonga at tennis so he’s got great hand-eye coordination.”