“The fans make such a difference” | Horne ready for return of Warrior Nation
When George Horne crossed for a brace in a 56-24 win over Zebre back in February 2020, it was against the backdrop of a Warrior Nation in full voice.
Little did anyone in Scotstoun that night realise that – save for a win over the Dragons the following weekend – it would be 18 months before Horne and his team-mates would have the chance to experience that feeling again.
Now, though, with the visit of Newcastle Falcons and the return of supporters to the home of the Warriors just a week away, it’s front and centre in Horne’s mind.
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“The fans make such a difference,” the scrum-half stated to glasgowwarriors.org.
“They’ve pretty much packed out every home game they’ve been able to since I’ve been at the club, and the lift they give you on a game day – I can’t really describe how much it means to both myself and the boys.
“To have them back after 18 months or so will be such a massive moment, and hopefully we can give them a performance to remember.”
A fair few things have changed at Scotstoun since the last time the roar of the Warrior Nation filled the air on game day, not least of which is that – despite still only being 26 – Horne now finds himself as one of the more senior members of Danny Wilson’s playing group. So does the approach to the day-to-day change for the former Howe of Fife man?
“It does and it doesn’t,” explained Horne.
“You look around and there are definitely fewer of the guys that have been around for seven, eight years or so, so you realise that you probably need to take on more of a leadership role around the place.
“In terms of energy and enthusiasm, though, it still feels exactly the same – you still turn up excited and ready to go to work, and it’s so good to be back.”
Indeed, the Scotland number nine has already experienced his first taste of on-field leadership – albeit in somewhat unusual circumstances.
“Yeah, 10 minutes or something [against Leinster in the final game of 2020/21] wasn’t it?” laughed Horne.
“[Ryan] Wilson got himself sent off, and he had a look around and studied who was on the field. I think he just saw me first and told the ref I was the captain!
“It was a proper spur of the moment thing. We’ve got a lot of leaders around the club, though, so whoever is captain has that network of experienced guys to lean and rely upon.”
With preparations in full flow for the visit of the Falcons next Friday, the hard work has been continuing at Scotstoun as block two of pre-season ramps up a notch or two.
Whilst he may be someone whose name repeatedly comes up in conversations regarding the best pre-season fitness scores, Horne merely grins when asked if he’s someone who relishes the conditioning work.
“You do enjoy it in a way, because you come back in after four weeks or so off and you see all the boys again, all fresh and ready to hit the ground running,” he explained.
“It is pretty brutal at times and there are some long days, but it’s all worth it. I’m one of the luckier ones, because as a smaller guy it’s probably easier for me in some regards!
“I’m definitely more suited to running though – I’ll run all day, but as soon as you put me on a WattBike or a rowing machine I’m hopeless!”
The countdown to the club’s first outing of pre-season is well and truly on, however, with a few of the newest Warriors in contention for their first run-out in their new colours.
For Horne, it’s just one more factor to keep the excitement building as the Warrior Nation returns.
“It’s been really good to see the new guys settling in,” said the scrum-half.
“Sione [Tuipulotu] looks really sharp, he’s got great footwork and he’s going to cause defences a lot of problems for sure. Big Jack Dempsey, too – he’s a big ball-carrier and he’s got really good handling, and he’s someone I reckon I’ll really enjoy playing off as a nine.
“It’s always exciting playing a team you wouldn’t ordinarily play, too. [Newcastle have] gone really well the last couple of seasons in what’s a very physical league, and they’ve got a lot of exciting players.
“It’ll be a really good test for us to see how we compare and it’ll allow us to keep building towards the start of the new season.