Glasgow's Vernon hopeful of revival at centre
December 14, 2013
Vernon has not featured for Scotland in over a year © Getty Images
Richie Vernon is hoping to revitalise his Glasgow Warriors and Scotland ambitions by switching from back-row to centre.
The 26-year-old has struggled for first-team rugby at the Warriors after returning from two years at Sale, and with the last of his 20 Scottish caps coming in June 2012. He has decided to give the switch a try after receiving encouragement from none other than Scotland interim coach Scott Johnson and Glasgow boss Gregor Townsend, who both think the move back the position he played as a youngster could be a successful one.
Vernon debuted in his new position on Friday evening for Stirling County against Nottingham in the British and Irish Cup and admits he has enjoyed training with the backs at Glasgow in recent weeks.
He told the Scotsman: "It has been tough since I came back up. I knew it would be and I knew you'd have to be playing very well to warrant a place in the Warriors team. While I've had some niggling injuries, to be honest, my form hasn't been good enough to earn a back-row jersey consistently yet. I still back myself to be able to perform at the top level in the back row, but, when Scott and Gregor approached me and asked what I thought about moving to centre, I thought 'why not?'
"Having played stand-off, centre and full-back as a kid, I've always enjoyed being out there during multi-phase stuff in a game. I've been training with the backs at Glasgow for the last two weeks and really enjoyed it, and I have to say watching the forwards going through 20 or so scrums this week, while I was out with the backs, brought a wee smile to my face."
The 6ft 4in Vernon is not one to shy away from a new challenge and could be a welcome new addition to Scotland's midfield options.
"I'm looking forward to giving it a go," added Vernon. "I think the last time I played centre was filling in for someone who was injured at West of Scotland about five or six years ago.
"People keep telling me defence is tougher there but there are a lot of similarities in flankers and centres these days, such as the physicality and the running lines. It's one of those things that I think I'd regret it if I didn't give it a go."
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