GLASGOW Warriors playmaker Peter Horne has paid tribute to departing coach Gregor Townsend - saying that the impact the ex-Scotland stand-off made on the club was obvious before they had even played their first match under him.

Townsend, who will take over from Vern Cotter as national coach once Saturday’s 1872 Cup match between the Warriors and Edinburgh is out of the way, came to Glasgow in 2012. The team had just qualified for the play-offs under Sean Lineen, so they were obviously heading in the right direction already. But Horne explained that the standards immediately went up a notch or two under the new man, even in pre-season training.

“Pre-season, everything changed,” Horne said yesterday. “The first year he came in we went from running around looking for fitness to running and running and running and everything was game-related. It was about making sure the skill levels in the whole squad were coming up. Tighthead, loosehead, everyone was passing the ball and we were making sure that we could all play, offload and pass.

“I don't think we had a great pre-season – we lost a tight game to Exeter and to Sale away. We were terrible, but it was our first game under a new defensive system and the boys were flying around all over the place trying to get used to it.

“After a couple of games we started to go on a bit of a run. We were scoring tries and everyone was so excited to play. When you finished the game you were just desperate for the next one. From there, we’ve added levels to our game.

“Under Sean we were very difficult to beat and we were stuffy. And Matt [Taylor, the defence coach] has made sure we kept that. But under Gregor we’ve added a whole lot of different levels to our attack. It’s great fun to be a part of it.”

And, as Horne added, Townsend’s impact has been felt off the field as well as on. The style of play he has introduced has not only been successful in itself, it has also brought bigger and bigger crowds to Scotstoun - to the extent that the place is now at capacity for home games.

“It speaks for itself,” Horne said when asked about Townsend’s legacy. “We’ve went from having 1000 people at Firhill if we’re lucky to selling out Scotstoun every week.

“I think we’ve moved from being a bit-part club to every time we take the field people expecting a bloody hard game. I think we expect to go out and win every game we play now, so we’ve certainly moved on.”

Last season ended in the Warriors losing the PRO12 semi-final to eventual winners Connacht - a result that rankled all summer with the players. Horne is determined that this time round, the final game against Edinburgh will produce good memories to keep them happy over the close season.

“I remember last year, the whole summer after that – going out on tour to Japan, the whole pre-season – you were thinking about getting beaten by them,” he said of that Connacht game. “I think that really told when we finally played them in the first game of the season and hammered them.

“It was frustration about why we hadn't been able to do it at the end of last year. I don't want that on my mind all summer again.”