Glasgow Warriors captain Kyle Steyn has revealed how he and his teammates promised a refreshed mindset ahead of this season, which has culminated in an EPCR Challenge Cup final.
The Scottish region endured patchy form for much of last campaign, but have gradually improved throughout 2022-23, earning their shot at a first ever EPCR title when they face RC Toulon in Dublin tonight.
Steyn explained how the final was targeted at the start of the season as Glasgow aimed to deliver success for a loyal fanbase, with the appointment of head coach Franco Smith last August a key moment in their journey.
“At the start there were some tough conversations, for us as players,” he said. “The biggest thing was that we started off with a commitment that we made 12 months ago, one that we just needed to work harder.
“The goal was to be playing in this final, for the people of Glasgow, representing Glasgow city as a whole and the fighting nature that a working-class city like Glasgow has.
“Franco came in five or six weeks into that, and I think he’s done really well to spearhead that, take that commitment and really put us on a path forward.”
Steyn is anticipating an international-standard contest at the Aviva Stadium, with the Scotland back just one of several big names across the Glasgow and Toulon squads.
“You wouldn’t expect a final to be too far away from [Test match quality] in any competition,” he stated.
“It’s not something we’ve really talked about, comparing it to Test match rugby, but we’ve certainly talked about the fact that this is going to be a battle.
“We need to be excited by that opportunity and excited by that challenge.”
Glasgow were beaten by Munster Rugby in the BKT United Rugby Championship quarter-finals just less than a fortnight ago, but Steyn says the squad have been able to fully reset following that setback.
“It was good, first of all, that we had a couple of days to process the Munster game – everyone had to get through that mentally as much as physically,” he said.
“The 10 days of prep we’ve had have been no different to the prep throughout the rest of the season, and I think that’s been key, reinforcing the fact that we trust what works for us and what’s got us to this point.
“Outside of that, it’s just about conversations, with Franco, with our decision-maker like George [Horne] and the 10s.
“Making sure the guys are chatting through scenarios so there’s no surprises, nothing fazes us, and we can deal with whatever comes our way.”
Scrum-half George Horne was instrumental in Glasgow’s semi-final win at Glasgow, scoring a try and tallying 15 points to take his haul in this season’s EPCR Challenge Cup to 47 in five games.
The 28-year-old is set to be a key figure again in the final and he says he has found his rhythm in the current Glasgow system.
“It’s been good, I’ve obviously been able to play a fair bit of rugby this year which helps any player, getting a run of games,” he said.
“I’m feeling good, everybody’s just really excited. The aim at the start of the year was to get better – we’ve done that slowly.
“There’s still a long way to go and [today] is a chance for us to reap the rewards that have come off the back of hard work.
“I don’t like to think of [my form] too much and overthink that way, but it’s been a great year. When the team goes it well, it helps the scrum-half and back line, making a lot of breaks. It suits my game to get on the end of second touches and things.
“We’ve love playing at tempo. It suits all the nines at our club, and I guess it has been a positive season individually.”