Zander Fagerson admits the lure of running out with Glasgow at Celtic Park was the shining light that guided him out of his injury darkness.
The injury ruled him out for five months and saw him miss the Dark Blues’ November Tests.
Fagerson, 23, did recover in time to face France in the Scots’ third match of the Guinness Six Nations but was far from fully fit and sat out the final two games of the championship, including the thrilling last-day draw with England at Twickenham.
However, he was fuelled on by the desire to play his part when the Guinness PRO14 grand final is staged just seven miles across the city from his club side’s Scotstoun home at Parkhead.
And tighthead Fagerson has played like a man possessed in recent weeks and it would be unthinkable to see anyone else taking the number three jersey when Warriors march out to face Leinster on Saturday.
“The thought of this game drove me through all the hard times,” revealed Fagerson.
“I’ve been in a few dark places this year but I’ve got a really good support structure behind me with my family and friends, so that helped.
“It was tough being injured but knowing the boys were doing an awesome job out on the field, I said to myself that if I can get myself fit and in a position to play a part if we do get to the final then I’d take it with both hands.
“As a team, we were pretty gutted with how we performed in the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup against Saracens a few weeks ago but I was chuffed that I was back fit for that one.
“I’d said from the beginning of the season that playing in the PRO14 final in our own city would be absolutely awesome if we could get there, so to be actually on our way now is incredible.”
Ticket sales for the match have already topped 42,000 and PRO14 chiefs are confident they will yet beat the record crowd of 46,092 for last year’s final showdown between Leinster and Scarlets in Dublin.
Saturday will be Fagerson’s first experience of Celtic Park but has heard much about the atmosphere it can produce.
And he is hoping the noise levels will be cranked up as the ground known as ‘Paradise’ by the Celtic faithful proves to be just as special to the Glasgow squad.
Fagerson said: “I’ve never been to Celtic Park – I was a Peterhead fan growing up.
“But I’ve heard it is awesome. A few of the boys have been before and say it’s great.
“They’ve been talking about the atmosphere it can produce and I hear there’s a big crowd expected.
“Last weekend we had 10,000 at Scotstoun for the win over Ulster and that was amazing. The noise was just incredible.
“If we could get 50,000 Glasgow supporters at Celtic Park it would be just brilliant.
“It’s been building all season for us. Saturday is a massive opportunity to do something special in our own city so we can’t wait.
“It’s been a massive squad effort. There’s been more than 50 boys who have played for Glasgow this season so that speaks to the great academy structure and the depth in every position that we’ve got.
“I’m so proud of all the boys the whole season and now we’re looking to finish on a high.
“I’m just a small cog in the whole effort. I’d be massively honoured to be selected to play in the final.”
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