Lion relishing return home

Former Lion Chris Cusiter is back in his native Scotland and hoping for plenty of success with his new club and, hopefully, his country. [more]

Lion relishing return home

Former Lion Chris Cusiter is back in his native Scotland and hoping for plenty of success with his new club and, hopefully, his country.

The 2005 Lions tourist has spent the past two seasons with French Championship winners Perpignan but has now returned home to begin a new life with Glasgow Warriors.

Cusiter was one of Europe’s stand-out performers when he earned selection for Sir Clive Woodward’s Lions alongside Dwayne Peel, Matt Dawson and Gareth Cooper four years ago.

And while the 27-year-old has slipped to second-choice in Scotland’s scrum-half pecking order behind 2009 Lion Mike Blair, he is determined to push hard to overhaul his national rival, even if he says international recognition wasn’t the major reason behind his decision to leave France.

"I suppose coming back to Scotland will mean I get watched a bit more often by the national team management but that wasn’t a factor in my return,” Cusiter, who played four times for the Lions in New Zealand having also featured against Argentina at the Millennium Stadium, told the Glaswegian newspaper.

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"I was in France, playing for one of Europe’s top teams and in the form of my life. If (former Scotland coach) Frank Hadden thought that wasn’t enough to start me then fair enough but I don’t think my being on the bench for Scotland was down to playing my rugby abroad.

"But first things first, in order to get into the Scotland team I have to break into the Glasgow one and there is some strong competition on that front.

"Mark Macmillan is a great scrum half and he’s going to be pushing all the way for a starting berth. But pro rugby is about earning your chance and taking it and that’s what both of us will be striving to do."

During his time in France, Cusiter was given an insight into the way Scottish teams are viewed abroad, and the former Border Reiver didn’t like what he saw.

Sides in the Top 14 tended to dismiss the challenge of both Glasgow and Edinburgh when it comes to European competition but Cusiter is hopeful that he can help change that perception now that is back in Scotland.

"The French teams probably don’t look at Glasgow and Edinburgh as a threat in Europe,” explained Cusiter.

"But last season while we were preparing to play Ospreys, we watched the Glasgow match at Toulouse and a lot of the guys were making comments not in our favour.

"I just sat back quietly and watched Glasgow win and that did claw back some respect. But in order to get more of that, the Warriors have to get results like that on a consistent basis.

"That match showed that both the ability and talent is there but the big teams are made favourites over the likes of Glasgow and Edinburgh for a reason in that they are regularly competing for honours.

"If we can get some consistency then maybe wins like the Toulouse one will be treated as just another victory as part of a successful campaign."

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