Duncan Weir never gave up hope of returning to hometown club Glasgow Warriors, so jumped at the chance to head back up the road from Worcester when Danny Wilson got in touch towards the tail-end of last year – but he knows that taking ownership of the No10 jersey during the coming season is far from a foregone conclusion.
Almost immediately after Weir put pen to paper with Warriors last Christmas, Ross Thompson – a 22-year-old who had been stranded as an academy player for the previous two and a half years – finally got his chance at stand-off and grabbed it with both hands, registering a series of impressive performances during the second half of the 2020-21 campaign which earned a call-up to the national squad this summer.
Then in March, we learned that Argentinean Domingo Miotti was Scotstoun-bound. The 25-year-old has Super Rugby experience with the Jaguares and Western Force, and is an active member of the current Los Pumas squad having come off the bench in last weekend’s 32-12 defeat to South Africa.
So, while Weir is delighted to be back, he is very aware that the hard work required to secure regular game-time has only just begun.
“I am a Glasgow boy and having a young family back in Glasgow was a huge driving factor, as was the opportunity to play for the Warriors again, because it is a club I am hugely passionate about and supported as a young boy,” explained the 30-year-old, who was born in Cumbernauld and attended Cathkin High School, then spent six years on the books with the Warriors between 2010 and 2016, before being shipped east to Edinburgh for two seasons, and ending up with Worcester Warriors for three seasons.
“It has fallen into place perfectly for personal reasons and there is a lot a change happening at the club, so it is great to be back to play a part in that.”
Head coach Wilson wants Weir to take on a mentoring role with Thompson but is also adamant that he is there to fight the younger man for top-dog status in that crucial stand-off slot.
“I think initially on the field it’s about his game management, which is excellent,” explained Wilson, when asked what Weir can bring to the party. “He’s got a very good balance to his game, of being able to play rugby with ball in hand, and of recognising backfield spaces and being able to kick the ball over a distance to find those backfield spaces. He’s also a brave defender, and his collisions and his bravery are things we really want here.
“On top of all that, he’s a brilliant bloke. I knew him a bit through Scotland and I’ve spent a bit of time getting to know him better this summer. He’s going to help some of our young boys with their kicking skills and he brings an extra string to his bow from that point of view.
“He’s just a really good fit because he’s a Glasgow boy who is very passionate about Glasgow and happy to be home. That shines through in terms of what he wants for the city and playing for the badge. He’s not coming here to make up the numbers. He’s very competitive and wants to play, and that’s brilliant for me.”
From Weir’s perspective, he sees no reason why he can’t play an active role in encouraging Thompson’s development at the same time as competing for the same slot in the team.
“I am going into my 12th season in professional rugby and have a bit of experience behind me so if I can help Ross in any way then I am willing to do that,” he reasoned. “But my best rugby is round the corner and I have to concentrate on taking every opportunity that comes my way because every time I take the field it is chance to play. I am really excited about helping push the club forward in any direction I can.
“Experiencing the Premiership has helped me as a rugby player,” he added. “The quality I was playing with and against each week was great. It’s a slightly different profile in terms of broadcast and going to those historic venues to play the big English clubs. I’ll take those experiences from down south and dealing with the pressures of relegation, and it will help me enjoy a Glasgow brand of rugby that we seem to be getting back to.
“I was delighted to see the team’s performances in the Rainbow Cup and how the guys finished on a high. It’s about picking up from there and driving the club even further forward. We want to create a real buzz about the place by expressing ourselves in the best light.”