Players are forever trotting out the line about competition for places being a positive but you sense deep down most crave assurance that they are the undisputed No.1 in their position.
The summer move from Glasgow to Edinburgh has given Henry Pyrgos an opportunity to reboot his career and once again enjoy the experience of being a central senior figure in the starting XV, and in command of the No. 9 jersey. The last few years had seen the 29-year-old steadily slip behind young up-and-comers Ali Price and George Horne in the Glasgow pecking order and the 2015 World Cup vice-captain hasn’t started for Scotland since the loss to Fiji in Suva on the 2017 summer tour.
When Sam Hidalgo-Clyne announced he would be leaving for Scarlets at the end of last season, Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill wasn’t backwards in coming forwards about strongly suggesting one of Glasgow’s international scrum-halves should be transferred east to benefit all parties heading into a World Cup year. Pyrgos was the chosen man and, rather than view it as a demotion, has used it as a kickstart, culminating in an imperious display against his former club last weekend.
Pyrgos pulled the strings in Edinburgh’s 23-7 win in the 1872 Cup opener, peppering Glasgow with well judged box kicking and leading from the front as the opposition backs were harried incessantly.
Publicly, Pyrgos was taking no pleasure from getting one over his old side and simply sees it as another step on the road to what he hopes will be a chance to taste the kind of success he did with Glasgow in the colours of Edinburgh.
“We’re on our own journey. Glasgow went on their journey and eventually won the league, and are now at the top end of the league a lot,” said Pyrgos. “We want to be up there and we don’t know what that will look like, don’t know what the future is but we’re working really hard, playing our way and doing as best we can and we’re definitely going in the right direction.”
Pyrgos was a tryscorer on that famous night in Belfast when Glasgow trounced Munster to win a historic Pro12 title back in 2015. Asked whether he sees any similarities in what is brewing at Edinburgh under Cockerill to what Gregor Townsend started to build at Glasgow, the scrum-half replied: “It’s hard to tell, to be honest. We’ve played some good games but as Cockers will say that doesn’t mean much, at the end of the season we want to be up there.
“The only way you do improve is that you ultimately get in the play-offs, it means we keep improving year on year. It’s a long process and we have to keep working hard week on week.
“We’re developing. Edinburgh had a really good season last year and we’re doing it again, but there’s a journey ahead for this club. We’re trying to grow, trying to build a really good squad and depth here.
“You look at where we are in the league and we’ve lost games we feel we should have done better in, so we’re not the finished article. We’re going well in Europe again but we’ve still got two games coming up there.
“Things change very quickly in sport, we’re definitely improving week on weekand that’s the aim, we want to be challenging at the top end of the table in Europe and the league.”
Pyrgos admitted he had given Cockerill some insight into Glasgow in the week building up to last Saturday’s game.
“A little bit. Obviously he asked me about certain aspects, but I mean things change and you don’t know what Glasgow are focusing on now,” he explained. “We just concentrate on what we do really well, if you don’t play well you’re not going to win.
“So we had a big week concentrating on us, obviously a little bit on Glasgow but we knew we had to come in and play well and thankfully for the most part we did that.”
Now Pyrgos faces a return tomorrow afternoon to the place he called home for the bulk of his career and he is anticipating a different kind of game at Scotstoun, but one that can be won if Edinburgh get right the things they did at BT Murrayfield.
“Glasgow have a bunch of dangerous players so they’re going to find space at times,” he said. “They caused us problems as we knew they would but I thought our forwards again defended really well in the headline phases of play and we managed to stop them for the most part, plus picking up a couple of interceptions, we did really well there, put them under pressure.
“We take a lot of confidence from the first game but yes, things will be very different this week. We’ll have to do those things very well again to have a chance.”