The disjointed nature of the 2020-21 season so far – due to a combination of Covid and some unusually hostile weather conditions – has been tough for everyone involved in professional rugby.
But for the likes of Glasgow Warriors hooker Johnny Matthews, the level of frustration is heightened by the knowledge that each cancelled or postponed game is one less opportunity to make his case for a contract extension beyond the end of his current short-term deal which runs out at the end of the season.
Warriors have managed only two matches since their painful 42-0 thumping at the hands of Exeter Chiefs on 13thDecember – a 10-7 loss away to Edinburgh on 2nd January and a 23-22 win over the same opposition at home on 16th January – meaning that Friday’s visit of Ulster cannot come quickly enough for Matthews and his team-mates.
With Fraser Brown injured and George Turner away on international duty, he is up against Scotland training squad member Grant Stewart and Fijian Mesu Dolokoto for selection against Ulster at Scotstoun on Friday night.
“I was frustrated last week with our Benetton game being called-off – the whole squad was to be fair because we had prepared really well ahead of it – but the players and the coaches have been really good at keeping the group together,” he said.
“We’ve got a couple of really big games coming up against Ulster and Leinster, plus the Ospreys have still got to come here as well which will be a great opportunity to claw back some of those points, so we’re very confident as a group of achieving qualification for the European Champions Cup next season.’
Matthews arrived in Scotland from his native Liverpool during the summer of 2017 and made an immediate impact during two seasons playing club rugby for Boroughmuir in the Premiership, which led to him being handed a three-month contract with Warriors at the start of the 2019-20 campaign. He was initially brought in as World Cup cover and has been on a series of short-term deals since then.
“Being at Glasgow has really helped develop my game an awful lot more,” adds the 27-year-old, who qualifies as Scottish through his Glasgow-born mother. “Boroughmuir is a great club but if I want to kick on and become as good a player as my potential will allow me to, then I think this is a great place to be. I can’t wait for the next five or six weeks to try and put a stamp on that matchday 23.
“I’m just concentrating on these next few weeks, to hopefully put myself in a good position and we’ll see what happens from there,” he replied when asked if he has had any discussions yet with head coach Danny Wilson about where he stands for next season.