Scotland v Samoa: Scrum-half George Horne says he would "absolutely relish" a start against Samoa
When Scotland wakes up on Saturday morning head coach Gregor Townsend will have announced his team (at 6.30am BST) for Monday’s crunch Rugby World Cup Pool A clash with Samoa in Kobe.
One man we know for sure who will be involved, on the bench at the least, is scrum-half George Horne. Following Ali Price’s premature departure with a foot/ankle injury picked up against Ireland, and assistant coach Mike Blair confirming on Thursday that call-up Henry Pyrgos would not be ready for this game, it leaves just Greig Laidlaw and Horne as the available scrum-halves.
The 24-year-old, who has seven caps, is not just setting for a bench slot just yet and said he wants to start the game.
“Absolutely yes. I’ve not started a lot of games recently but we’ve trained hard and if the call was to come to start I’d absolutely relish it,” said the Glasgow Warriors player.
Whatever the starting XV, a first World Cup appearance looms and Horne added: “I’m massively excited. It has been a really great experience so far as a player. The fact I’m hopefully going to get a shot this week is hugely exciting.
“Every time you pull on a Scotland jersey it’s a massive experience. I can’t wait to get out there.”
Horne has had opportunities for both club and country in the past couple of years and continually impressed but asked if it has been frustrating to be slightly behind Laidlaw and Price at national level and the latter at Scotstoun, he replied: “I don’t think it has been frustrating. Everybody wants to be first-choice. To get an opportunity to play for Scotland is something you dream about as a kid. All seven caps, I have loved every minute of them.
“I was gutted for Ali. He’s had a great season and was great off the bench at the weekend with a flipping broken foot. It’s gutting for him but there’s nothing I can do about that. It is an opportunity to pick it up and put in some good performances.
“I didn’t think I was third choice scrum-half. Greig has a lot of experience and Ali is playing great. I just wanted to show up as well as I could in training and push them all the way for the spots and contribute well whether I am in the squad or the non-23.
Now that Ali has gone Henry is here it will be a fight to get the jersey on matchday so nothing changes in how I look forward to training and games.”
If and when Horne does take to the pitch at the Kobe Misaki stadium on Monday (11.15am BST) he will join his big brother Pete in becoming the latest set of brothers to represent Scotland at a World Cup.
The younger sibling recalls watching his brother playing at the last tournament in England four years ago.
“I was at uni so it was a different atmosphere back then,” he explained. “I was watching on from a flat in Edinburgh when Pete scored against Australia [in the quarter-finals] and my phone went mental, it was like I had scored, all the texts coming through! It was pretty cool watching then but even better now.
“[The Samoa game, which clinched the last-eight spot] I was at it at St James’ Park, me and dad were in the crowd. It was a pretty nerve-racking day but good to win it and get through to the quarters.”
Having that family link in the squad has helped the younger Horne greatly on this big adventure to the Far East.
“It is a really special tie for me, him [Pete] and the family. I grew up watching him play for Glasgow and then Scotland, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do – so to get to do that alongside him is even better. To be here alongside each other is cool for us and it’s cool for the family.
“We don’t room together, but we spend a lot of time together, so it is good to have someone there you can go hang with and just feel relaxed around – get time away from the intensity of the rugby.”