Scotland international prop Zander Fagerson hails player development at Highland Rugby Club as Glasgow Warriors prepare to travel north to Inverness for the first pre-season friendly against Worcester Warriors at the Caledonian Stadium

Scottish international stalwart Zander Fagerson has paid tribute to the development of players at Highland Rugby Club ahead of Glasgow Warriors’ pre-season friendly next week.

Glasgow take on Worcester Warriors at Caledonian Stadium next Friday in what is believed to be the first professional rugby game to take place in the Highland capital since 2000, when the Caledonian Reds hosted Edinburgh.

It will also be the start of a new era for the Scotstoun club, who have appointed Franco Smith as their new head coach this summer – with the first chance to see his side step onto the pitch at Inverness.

Although that hasn’t been possible in recent years due to the pandemic, Glasgow have already hit the road for pre-season games, with a game in Perth in 2018 the last time they were able to leave their ground. .

Scottish international stalwart Zander Fagerson has visited the Caledonian Stadium ahead of the Glasgow Warriors visit next week. Photo: Callum Mackay

This only added to the excitement among the Warriors, with Fagerson looking forward to racing in the Highlands.

“It’s my first time at Caley Thistle, I love it,” he said during a visit to the stadium this week.

“It’s brilliant with a very good pitch in immaculate condition – so no excuses for next Friday.

“It’s a Glasgow and Caley area, so we’re trying to get the game out there. There’s some great talent coming in from outside areas.

“I’m a Caley boy and if I hadn’t been exposed in Glasgow I wouldn’t be where I am today. We need to continue to get that message across in places like schools.

“There are exceptional talents in these regions that may not be recognised, so we have to spread the net very far and get the best harvest.

“I’m sure some of our fans will also make the trip to Inverness and that’s great. Hopefully we can do that in the future, every year.”

Glasgow Warriors face Worcester Warriors at Caledonian Stadium on Friday September 2 – buy tickets here.

Credit to Highland RFC

Fagerson played alongside Highlanders as good friend Paddy Kelly and Jamie Dobie for Glasgow Warriors.

These are examples of the talent that exists outside the traditional homes of rugby, and a lot of work has been done at Highland’s Canal Park to ensure that more youngsters will follow in the footsteps of Kelly and Dobie.

Former Glasgow player Paddy Kelly hails from Inverness and played in the minis section of Highland.  Image: Scottish Rugby/SNS
Former Glasgow player Paddy Kelly hails from Inverness and played in the minis section of Highland. Image: Scottish Rugby/SNS

The Glasgow prop is well aware of the capability that exists in regions like Inverness and the Highlands, and he knows what it’s like to succeed in the game from different regions having grown up in Dundee.

With next Friday’s game part of Highland’s centenary celebrations, Fagerson made sure to credit the work being done locally at Canal Park.

“I’m not quite familiar with all the academy systems at the moment, but I also had to travel far when I was younger,” he explained.

“It’s a huge sacrifice on the part of the parents and the players, it’s good for them. The regional coaches are there to help put the right players in the right positions, to help them express their talents.

“We just need to cast the net wide and have those regional days to make sure the players are on display to show what they can do, so they can be picked up.

“Highland has always had a very strong minis team and throughout the years and it has worked so they just need to continue what they have been doing.

“Highland maybe don’t get enough recognition for some of the players they bring. I have good friends from here like Paddy so hopefully the game is a good night and Highland gets recognition for all the work they do.”

A fresh start in Scotstoun

For Warriors fans heading into the game against Worcester, there will be a sense of intrigue watching Smith’s team run out for the first time.

Zander Fagerson.  Photo: Callum Mackay
Zander Fagerson. Photo: Callum Mackay

Fagerson missed the first part of pre-season due to international commitments with Scotland – including a 50th cap – but is looking to get off to a winning start under the new regime to build momentum ahead of the 2022/23 season .

“We addressed a few things at the end of last season that we weren’t good at and fell short, but honesty and key work are two of our strengths and our main roots at Glasgow,” insisted Fagerson.

“We want to get back to those roots and who we are. We want to make the place proud. We’ve had a proper review from scratch and touched on a few things and had a few tough conversations and we’re going to be better for her. The only way now is to look forward.

“It’s about getting back to who we are. We challenged ourselves at the end of last season, but we know what we are now and we can’t wait to show it with what we put on the pitch. .

“The boys have worked and trained very hard. We have high standards on and off the pitch and if we maintain that throughout the season it can be a good season but no matter what we talk about in pre-season, it depends on the results.

“It’s a new challenge with a new coach and everyone is buying into it, so we’re really excited to start. Next Friday is the start and we’ll apply that to the season. There are good vibes around the square.”

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