Trading second tier rugby in Doncaster for Glasgow’s green hollows and the opportunity to play in some of the northern hemisphere’s rugby citadels was not an easy choice for Warriors prop Michael Cusack.
As a born-and-bred Yorkshireman, when Glasgow expressed an interest in securing Cusack’s services for the current season he had to be sure the Warriors’11th-place finish last year was a false reading of their potential in RaboDirect PRO12 this year.
Happy that was the case, Cusack signed up and has been marvellously vindicated in his decision to leave his hometown as Glasgow have marched into the RaboDirect PRO12 play-offs and now face Leinster in the RDS Arena this Saturday for a place in the final.
The opportunity to play in games like this is why Cusack, 26, left Castle Park and as he stands on the cusp of the highest profile game he’s ever played in, he admits he knew it was all possible after a persuasive conversation with head coach Sean Lineen last summer.
“At the end of last season Glasgow told me to come up and have a look around,” said Cusack.
“I had a good chat with Sean and he said he would like me to come.
“He said Glasgow were going places and that he didn’t believe where they were last year was an accurate judge of their ability, he was saying how things were changing.
“That impressed me. Coming from the Championship I wanted to play at the highest level but I didn’t want to join a team that was struggling.
“Thankfully we haven’t and this match against Leinster will be an awesome occasion.
“The goal for the whole season has been to get in to the play-offs.
“We’ve been within touching distance for a while and we’ve put in a massive effort in the last few weeks.
“Being in the top four isn’t where we want to stop though, we want to go all the way to the final.
“No-one is just happy reaching the play-offs and now we’re there what better goal could you have than beating Leinster and reaching the final.”
Along with the Ospreys, Glasgow haven’t lost to Leinster in the league this season after they won away in September and shared the spoils in the reverse fixture at Firhill.
Cusack came off the bench and played 40 minutes of the Warriors’ 23-19 win in Dublin, ending the hosts’ 28-game unbeaten home record in the process.
And while he missed out on the 10-10 draw in February he’s desperate to repeat the historic feats of their early season win.
“That win kick-started our season and was a great experience,” he added.
“Leinster are not used to losing, I think it was the first game they have lost in a lot of games.
“The defence played a huge factor that day, especially when they were camped on our line.
“We do a lot of work on our defence, we don’t leak that many tries. It is a massive part of the game but I would not say that we just relay on the defensive side.
“To win you need to score points and it that sense DTH’s (Van der Merwe) return has been a boost to us.
“He’s played in two games and scored two tries. The crowd seem to love him too and when he gets the ball they get right behind him and the team.
“Hopefully he can do it again this Saturday.”