Pete Horne: Making the most of every opportunity
Pete Horne featured in the first three of Scotland’s 2018 Autumn Tests, coming off the bench in Cardiff and putting in a great shift against Fiji before scoring Scotland’s first try of the game against South Africa.
He says that the start to the November Tests wasn’t what he had hoped for, but he was pleased with the second outing against Fiji.
“Obviously we were disappointed with that Wales result,” he said. “We had chances, especially in the second half to score and we didn’t take them, and Wales were just clinical. I was really pleased with the Fiji game – I felt like I’d matured quite a bit since last year’s game against Samoa – and against Fiji we ground them down in the first half and then really put them to the sword.”
Horne’s work-rate in that game was highlighted by Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend, and it’s a trait the centre is well-known for whether he’s playing for Scotland or Glasgow Warriors.
“As long as I’ve worked my socks off and tried to front up physically then I can come off the pitch happy,” he said. “It’s tough when you’ve got four big tests week after week but as soon as you get out on the pitch, it’s funny, all your little niggles disappear. You feel like you can run through a brick wall when you’ve got the Scotland jersey on.”
Horne has now earned 38 caps for his country, having made his international debut off the bench against Samoa in the opening match of the quadrangular tournament in South Africa in June 2013. A serious knee injury in the next match against South Africa halted his efforts to make a bigger impact on the international stage, however, a year on and recovered from that injury, he enjoyed his first start for Scotland in the 19-17 win against Canada in Toronto. His performance in the 2015 Six Nations and summer tour and his part in Glasgow Warriors’ Guinness PRO12 winning season was enough to secure his place in the 31-man squad for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Horne featured in all five of Scotland’s matches in the tournament and scored Scotland’s first of three tries against Australia in the quarter-final at Twickenham. This year, he featured in all five of Scotland’s NatWest 6 Nations games, starting against France, England and Ireland and coming off the bench for Wales and Italy. He scored his fourth try for his country in the championship opener against Wales in Cardiff. Horne’s busy 2018 also included a trip to the Americas for the summer tour, an experience he says he enjoyed. “The Argentina game was awesome because we’d had quite a bit of flack about ‘not being able to play away from home. I think we relished the chance of having been written off and feeling like we were going to show everyone.
“Against Argentina it felt like we were in total control against a really good side. It was the end of a long hard season and we had a good night out after it.”
The tour also marked the first time Horne and his younger brother George got the chance to play side-by-side in the dark blue jersey. The game against the USA made them the 23rd pair of brothers to play together for Scotland in the same Test match.
“It was George’s first cap and he was buzzing about it, full of energy and delighted to be involved,” he said. “We talked about how it was more an occasion for Mum and Dad and the family and we had a job to do – that’s the way we tried to approach it. What’s special is winning games together and we’re both pretty competitive so after the USA game it almost ruined it a bit, we were both pretty down and George was gutted because we’d lost. But as my wife always points out, there aren’t many people who get to play with their best mate from school and their little brother, so now to be able to do that with Scotland is fantastic.”
Horne says that over the last couple of years, the Scotland squad have become a tight-knit group. He credits Gregor Townsend with creating this culture and making sure the players spend a lot of time together. He’s also enjoying the style of rugby that Townsend encourages.
“My job is just to get the ball to guys like Hoggy and Tommy and Sean and try and create the space for them,” he said. “It’s so cool when you chuck a ball out there and those guys are scoring. We’re playing an exciting brand of rugby and it’s great to be a part of it.”
Another factor Horne cites as playing a part in Scotland’s recent successes is the support of the home crowd at BT Murrayfield. He says that when he was younger, he’d come to the stadium to cheer on Scotland and while it was a great atmosphere, the number of fans attending was generally fewer.
“We probably don’t realise how lucky we are to run out in front of 67,000 people. When guys come or go off the pitch they get a massive cheer and when we score a try the crowd go mad, it’s just awesome.BT Murrayfield is such a good place to play and I think even opposing teams love coming as well, it makes it such a good occasion.”
As for the Six Nations, the Rugby World Cup and all the other games that lie ahead, Horne says he’s taking it one match at a time.
“If you start looking too far ahead that’s when you start taking your eye off of what’s right in front of you and maybe lose a bit of form and I can’t afford to do that,” he said. “For me it’s about making the most of every opportunity I get and thankfully I’ve had a couple recently, so hopefully I can try and keep doing well and the rest will take care of itself.”