Twit­ter aids Horne to put Ital­ian blues be­hind him By Richard Bath

Scot­land cen­tre re­cov­ers from er­ror Fol­low­ers on so­cial media prove vi­tal

The Daily Telegraph - Rugby World Cup - - Sport Rugby World Cup 2015 -

Six months can be a life­time in Test rugby, es­pe­cially if you are Peter Horne. The Scot­land back has come a long way since that dre­ich day at the be­gin­ning of this year when his missed touch kick in the dy­ing min­utes of Scot­land’s Six Na­tions match against Italy al­lowed the

Az­zurri for­wards the chance to rum­ble to­wards Scot­land’s line and claim a vic­tory that all-but doomed Scot­land to the wooden spoon. Yet within months such is his form that he is widely seen as a stick-on to be Scot­land’s start­ing in­side cen­tre.

“It was a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said. “It was ob­vi­ously a re­ally low point, but I feel that I’ve bounced back. At the end of the day, the best mo­ments of my life are about be­ing on the field play­ing the game, and while some­thing like that ob­vi­ously af­fects you a bit for me it was just about get­ting back out there.”

Horne, who was play­ing stand-off that day be­cause of Finn Rus­sell’s sus­pen­sion for a dan­ger­ous tackle against Wales, has been work­ing hard with the phys­ios to com­bat the cramp in the calf that af­flicts him in the lat­ter stages of games where he has had to do a lot of work in con­tact and at the break­down.

Two weeks be­fore that game against Italy, he had the same cramp as he kicked to touch against Ze­bre, only that time the ball li mped into touch. Late in the re­cent game against Ire­land, de­spite be­ing an 80 per cent goal kicker, he gave a late at­tempt to Ruar­idh Jack­son but in­sists it was a pre­cau­tion­ary ges­ture. The gru­elling World Cup train­ing should mean that there is no chance of a re­peat of the mis­for­tune he suf­fered at Mur­ray­field.

The Ital­ian episode that could have bro­ken him, but Horne was in­stead bol­stered by his fol­low­ers on so­cial media. In­stead of lay­ing into him, as hap­pened to for­mer Scot­land back Nick De Luca – who was fa­mously forced to come off Twit­ter af­ter be­ing the vic­tim of vi­cious

‘Be­ing trolled is not nice but you have to put your hand up. I made a mis­take’

abuse af­ter a yel­low card at Mur­ray­field – Horne used the fo­rum to de­velop the men­tal re­silience needed to push for more caps.

“There is a down­side to so­cial media be­cause ev­ery­one is en­ti­tled to their opin­ion, but thank­fully it doesn’t bother me if some­one thinks I’m rub­bish,” he says. “I’ve had my mo­ments though – ob­vi­ously, af­ter the Ital­ian game I got a fair bit of stick, but you just have to take it on the chin. Be­ing trolled is not nice but you have to put your hand up.

“I made a ter­ri­ble mis­take. It wasn’t as if I shied away from things. Your roll with the punches. It’s a fickle game and some­times peo­ple love you, but other times they don’t.

“Thank­fully for ev­ery one per­son who mes­saged me to give me stick, there were 10 or 20 telling me I shouldn’t worry about it. It just makes you want to bounce back.”

Since then Horne has de­vel­oped into such a key player for Glas­gow and Scot­land that he is of­ten sin­gled out by team-mates when they are asked about Scot­land’s most im­por­tant play­ers and lead­ers.

A non-stop talker, Horne or­gan­ises the de­fence of the all-Glas­gow mid­field and has be­come a for­mi­da­ble tack­ler him­self. In at­tack, his abil­ity to off­load in con­tact and a sweet left-to-right pass that can put Mark Ben­nett or Stu­art Hogg into space are key weapons for Scot­land.

With Alex Dun­bar now out in­jured, Horne feels that he is in the right form and the right men­tal place to step up and take a key role in the World Cup cam­paign.

“I have for­got­ten about Italy and feel like I’m in the shape of my life. I’m lucky I got another chance and just can’t wait to get crack­ing.”

World view: Scot­land pre­pare for their open­ing game

Up and run­ning: Peter Horne is a key player for Scot­land

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