Glasgow’s bonus point win over Pro12 champions Connacht, which came courtesy of a try by veteran Sean Lamont just two minutes from time at Scotstoun, was the perfect preparation for Sunday’s Champions Cup quarter-final at Saracens, believes Peter Horne.
The Warriors captain, who has finally managed to put together a run of games after coming back from injury, believes that after 14-man Glasgow overcame Connacht they can now go to Allianz Park and win the club’s first Champions Cup knockout game.
“We’ve been written off for years, but it doesn’t really matter,” said Horne. “In our dressing-room we believe we’ve got the firepower to beat anyone.”
Glasgow have under-performed badly this year and unless both Scarlets and Ulster self-combust the Warriors look set to miss out on a play-off place for the first time in six years. But Horne pointed out that many of Glasgow’s worst performances have come during the Six Nations when they have been without their Scotland players.
The club’s record 43-0 win against Leicester in the Champions Cup at Welford Road – the first Scottish club to win there since the now defunct Fettesians-Lorretonians in 1907 – proves that Glasgow have what it takes to win on the road. And for Horne, who missed the Six Nations with injury, the chance to take part in the pointy end of European club rugby’s premier competition has been a powerful motivating factor.
“When I got injured and we ruled out me being back for the Six Nations, I said my goal was to try and get back involved for this quarter-final,” he said. “When I struggled to get up for another day in the gym, it was what I focused on. Every day of my rehab it was in the back of my mind.”
It worked too. Horne was quietly exceptional in both defence and attack against Connacht and is likely to pair up with Alex Dunbar in the Glasgow centres against Saracens. For players such as Dunbar and Finn Russell, playing a high-profile match against the English champions provides a final chance to convince Warren Gatland and his fellow Lions selectors that the Calcutta Cup was an aberration.
Horne, though, is not looking any further than trying to play his part against a Saracens side which starts as heavy favourites.
“As a team we’re getting there, and so am I – that’s four games in a row now for me; four 80 minutes for the first time since last season. I’m feeling better. Every week I’m improving. I’ll be looking to work my nuts off this week and put my hand up for selection again.”
While Horne accepted that the potential loss of Tim Swinson after the second row was red-carded for a swinging arm against Connacht, was a real loss for the Warriors, he also believes the spirit in the side is so high that they can spring what would be a famous upset.
“We can absolutely win,” he said. “We’re in a great place. It’s great to have the Scotland boys back – they’ve come back full of beans and really lifted training last week. It was great to see them all out having fun, smiles on their faces.
“This is going to be a massive week, but we’re not celebrating being in that quarter-final. We’re in this competition to win it.”