Rory Darge has a drive to succeed with the Glasgow Warriors after recovering from injury
First up is a quarter-final game against the Lions in Scotstoun in the Challenge Cup tomorrow night, then the Warriors need a win in either of their two remaining league games to secure a home game in the URC play-offs.
“Obviously I’ve had a couple of injuries now so I’ve had to deal with things like that before but it’s been a frustrating time for me,” said the 23-year-old, who made his senior debut in Scotland during last year’s season Six Nations. “So I’ve focused on some things outside of rugby, like learning to drive, which I couldn’t do before my last injury.
“That was a big thing for me. It makes such a difference. I was so nervous about my exam. I was more nervous than I’ve ever been at a rugby match before my test! But I passed first time, and I got myself a car, a tiny Suzuki Swift. So if you see a bad driver on the road driving one like this, it could be me!”
Tomorrow’s game will be Darge’s fifth return leg since recovering from a fracture to his ankle against Cardiff in September, and he’s achieving the kind of form that has led to him being named Scottish Rugby’s Young Player of the Year for 2021/22 became .
He’s excited to once again contribute to a team that has put themselves in a great position to claim their first serious silver since they won the PRO12 – as the URC was then called – the 2015 title.
“That’s obviously the goal, but we have big games coming up every week now,” Darge said when asked if the team has spoken about the prospect of winning either the Challenge Cup or the URC this season. “The Lions come first this weekend. It’s home and it’s going to be a huge game. We lost to them there in South Africa a couple of weeks ago, so maybe that’s an added factor for us too.
“If we look at the Dragons’ game last week, we know we need to improve defensively. I personally feel fresh and it’s easy for me to get up for every game because I’ve spent so much time on the sidelines watching the lads.”
Add to that the added motivation for Darge – and several other members of the Warriors line-up – to campaign for selection into Scotland’s World Cup training squad, which is due to be announced in mid-May. “Absolutely, we’re all dying for it,” he confirmed. “Obviously in terms of fitness, injuries are part of the game so touch wood it won’t be a problem as it has sometimes been for me in the past.
“I’m still aware of the injury after having pretty heavy surgery on her,” he added. “But as soon as I had my first proper training session with the team and had the ball in my hands, I just forgot about it.”
The Warriors or Lions semi-final opponents will be the winners of today’s first quarter-final between the Scarlets and Clermont Auvergne in Llanelli.
British & Irish Lions full-back Leigh Halfpenny returns for the home side with the only change from the line-up that defeated Brive in the Round of 16. Both games on the other side of the draw take place tomorrow, with Toulon home to Lyon and Cardiff traveling to Italy to take on Benetton.
Meanwhile, the Champions Cup quarter-finals get underway in Dublin tonight when Leinster play Leicester, who beat Edinburgh last week. Tomorrow Toulouse play Sharks at home and Exeter Chiefs welcome Stormers to Sandy Park before Sunday’s round of 16 finishes when La Rochelle play Saracens at home.