STUART HOGG believes that he and Tommy Seymour have their Glasgow Warriors and Scotland team-mates to thank for being named in the British & Irish Lions squad for this summer’s tour to New Zealand. Hogg and winger Seymour are the only Scots in the group of 41 that also includes 16 Englishmen, 12 Welsh players and 11 from Ireland, and the full-back reckons some of his team-mates were very close to getting a place.
“I think the fact that me and Tommy are going is down to our team-mates, whether that’s at Glasgow or Scotland,” Hogg said yesterday. “At Glasgow, we’ve been chasing trophies for the past five years, and with Scotland we’re ever-improving.
“The fact that the ball gets out wide makes us look good. All our team-mates are getting us into good positions. Obviously I would have loved to have seen other boys joining us, and I think there are a few boys who just missed out. But it’s tough to pick a squad.”
Hogg toured Australia with the Lions four years ago, but did not play in any of the Tests, and turned out at stand-off in one low-key midweek match. This time round, he believes he is a better player and a more mature person - and is determined to fight all the way for the No 15 jersey.
“I’ve become a better player since being part of the last Lions tour,” he said. “Here’s hoping I can get a bit of game time and show what I’ve got, and I’ll be doing all I can to make that happen.
“The level of professionalism goes up another notch. The biggest thing I learned from the last tour is the need to be professional 24/7. I certainly wasn’t that going into the last tour, but I believe I am now. I think I’ve matured over the last few years and here’s hoping I can get a bit of game time.
“I am a 15, and I’ll be doing all I can to get that 15 jersey. Now it’s a case of working hard and seeing if I can get that, and putting myself in the possible position to get that.
“I’m over the moon, chuffed to bits to be going to New Zealand,” Hogg added.. “It’s hard to sum up how I feel, as there’s been a lot of speculation in the last few weeks. As soon as my name was read out I was massively excited.
“I’m chuffed for Tommy as well as I think he’s been world-class in the last few years and fully deserves his place on the plane. I’m massively excited and hugely honoured as well.
“He’s incredible in the air - great at the high ball both in attack and defence. I’ve got every confidence to stick up a high ball for him to chase and know that he’s going to get that ball back.
“I think that sets him apart from the other wingers. His finishing ability - he’s got tries over the last few years, and fully deserves his call-up. Here’s hoping that we can play together.”
Twenty-eight-year-old Seymour had a similar reaction to his Glasgow team-mate. “I still can’t believe it,” he said. “I want to play in as many games as possible, but I'll be targeting the games against New Zealand.”