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Wednesday 16 October 2019

Warriors need to go whole Hogg in order to beat the Blues

Stuart Hogg is playing his last game for Glasgow
Stuart Hogg is playing his last game for Glasgow

There are few who deserve to hog the limelight as much as Stuart Hogg.

The frightening speed and change of direction are enough to send a shiver of fear through the best defences.

It has been that way through the whole of his career.

The Scotland full-back has precious few medals in his pocket, none from the international arena and just a PRO12 League title from 2015.

That had to have played a significant role in his decision to sign for the Premiership perennial title challengers Exeter Chiefs. Believe it or not, it isn't much fun being the best player on a team that don't make the play-offs count in their favour.

Nice

There has to come a time when there can be no more 'Mr Nice Guy', no more 'Nice Team'.

That began somewhere along the road with Gregor Townsend and has been expanded by the 'streetwise' approach of Dave Rennie.

It helps when you have combustible characters, like Fraser Brown, at the heart of everything you do.

Glasgow have used the experiences of being bullied by Leinster and Saracens to bring about change.

They have made a stand against taking a backward step.

The physical presence of the Fagersons - Zander and Matt - Johnny Gray and Callum Gibbins have made that possible.

"At times in big games, we came up short," stated Hogg.

Last season, Leinster rolled right through Glasgow on their way to a fifth European Cup.

"They came across here - I think it was last season - in the second game of the Champions Cup and bullied us.

"It was a smash and grab job from them and they took home the victory.

"Last year, we learned a hell of a lot towards the business end of the season that we really have to have that clinical edge to our game.

"Defensively, we are going to have to be spot on, try and keep their key players out of the game as much as we possibly can."

It was a lesson taken, not necessarily fully learned.

This season, Saracens were the ones to let Glasgow know they still have a fair way to go.

Happen

"The game against Saracens was probably the best thing to happen to us. They gave us the kick up the backside that we needed.

"Up front, we were bullied," said Hogg.

"We weren't clinical enough as a backline and that is the way that you have to play in these final games. We have had a good reaction on the back of that game. We feel we are in a good place."

With Europe out of reach, Glasgow settled into the mindset of winning every match to the end of the season.

"We quickly realised how tough it was going to be on the run-in to get ourselves in a position to qualify for the play-offs and then get a home semi-final," he added.

This has led to greater accuracy and urgency in defence to go with always-on attack.

"We knew that we had to have a real clinical edge in our game," said Hogg.

"On the back of our solid defence, we really fronted up, our decision-making at the breakdown has been a lot better.

"Our decision-making in attack, we have had that clinical edge. We have taken the right options.

"We have played right on top of teams."

Of course, this is exactly what Leinster want to do as well, present the ball cleanly for quick recycles that has the defence back-pedalling and the attack rapidly advancing.

Whichever club can have their way in this regard will hold all the aces.

LEINSTER v GLASGOW

(KO 6.30, TG4 & Eirsport 1)

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