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DTH sets eyes to Hogg

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After goading Sale wing, ex-teammate not beyond targeting Stuart Hogg's hair line

On Saturday, Glasgow Warriors will come up against one of their greatest heroes, a man who enjoyed near-god-like status during his nine years at the club.

Stuart Hogg, the marvellous Scotland and British and Irish Lions full-back, swapped Scotstoun for Exeter Chiefs in the summer. As fate would have it, the sides have been drawn against each other in a ferociously competitive Champions Cup pool.

How do you quell a talent like Hogg? How do you get under his skin and disrupt his game? According to DTH van der Merwe, Glasgow’s veteran wing and record try-scorer, the solution is simple.

“I just talk about his hair,” the Canada international laughs. “Say it still looks bad.”

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Hogg has battled famous follicular challenges, undergoing a hair transplant last summer before sporting a peroxide blonde look and most recently a buzz cut.

Glasgow seemed to succeed in riling another former favourite, Byron McGuigan, as they began their European campaign with a bruising and tetchy 13-7 win over Sale Sharks.

Namibia-born McGuigan was embroiled in heated exchanges during a hugely attritional contest at Scotstoun, with Van der Merwe stoking the fire.

“I never got to Byron but Byron was losing his head on the other side so at half-time I tapped him on the back and I was like, ‘Why are you so angry? Are we getting to you?’ in Afrikaans. I know that will just infuriate him a bit more

“I can’t wait [to play against Hogg]. It’s like Byron today, you want to have the opportunity to play against them and if you get a tackle or a run against them you have a little chat on the floor. I’ll maybe give Hoggy a pinch on the floor, or talk about his hair.”

All joshing aside, the task facing Glasgow at Sandy Park is monumental. Exeter are perennial Premiership finalists, and see Hogg as a vital addition in their quest to make serious and unprecedented inroads in the latter stages of the Champions Cup, where they have only once escaped their pool and never gone beyond the last eight.

The full-back, by his own admission, has not delivered his most sparkling form across the past injury-disrupted season, but he remains a world-class operator.

“He’s a marked man on the field, so teams will try and take his time and space away,” Van der Merwe says. “It makes it that harder to stand out when you’re someone like Stuart Hogg.

“We’ve got to make sure we front up again, not give him any space. He’s got that nice little goose-step reverse line that he runs which is dangerous and he’s obvious been doing that with Exeter this year because he’s got lots of metres.”

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After goading Sale wing, ex-teammate not beyond targeting Stuart Hogg's hair line