Greg Peterson out to make his mark with Glasgow Warriors

Greg Peterson in action for the North Harbour Rays
Greg Peterson will join Glasgow Warriors prior to next season
By Jamie Lyall, BBC Scotland

At 6ft, 8in and 125kg, Greg Peterson is not overstating when he labels himself a "big bruiser".

Glasgow Warriors' latest recruit, an industrious second-row and USA international, signed a two-year deal with the Pro12 leaders last week.

He will arrive at Scotstoun ahead of next season armed with a steeliness enforced by past disappointment and an impressive rugby CV compiled during stints at two of the game's most prestigious elite set-ups.

"I had a brief chat with (Warriors head coach) Gregor Townsend and (captain) Al Kellock," Peterson, who has spent the past six months with Leicester Tigers, making just three appearances, told BBC Scotland.

"They told me where the club's been the past five-ten years, where they've built it to and how they've built it that way; how the players have bought into it through the culture and hard work ethic was really appealing.

"Gregor said there was definitely an opportunity there - I fit the bill for what they want for a second-row. He said he picks players on how hard they work and how well they play. I work damn hard; I just haven't really had that opportunity to play top-end rugby."

Al Kellock and Gregor Townsend at Scotstoun Stadium
Peterson spoke with club captain Al Kellock and head coach Gregor Townsend (right) before signing

Peterson, 24, was born and raised in Australia, and represented the Wallabies at Under-20 level, but his American parents instilled in their son a strong bond with their transatlantic heritage and a love of sport.

He spent five seasons with the Waratahs, Sydney's Super Rugby franchise, but found his game-time limited by an established group of locks, Jacques Potgieter, Will Skelton and Kane Douglas among them.

It was a familiar tale at the Tigers, whose second-row stocks include British and Irish Lion Geoff Parling, World Cup-winner Brad Thorn, and the highly-rated Graham Kitchener.

"I never really wanted to leave the Waratahs," he reflects. "I loved the Waratahs, I grew up watching them when I was a kid and for me to run onto the paddock wearing the sky blue jersey was a dream.

"It was unfortunate I wasn't able to continue a career there, but that's the way rugby is. It's a business in a sense. If someone in a corporate business was to stay five years and not get a promotion, they'd probably move on from that company. In the end, I had to do what was best for my rugby and myself.

"My old man would always sit me down on a Sunday morning and watch NFL, college ball, see the packed out stadiums, the passionate fans.

"I was a bit discouraged by the whole Australian system, seeing multiple mates that played representative rugby with me not getting opportunities, and when they did get one, they'd fall out of favour for some bizarre reason. I lost faith in that system.

Greg Peterson in training with the Waratahs
Peterson has his sights set on the World Cup

"I've always loved an underdog, and I'd rather be a part of building something that becomes a superpower and be remembered that way. I'm happy with my decision and I don't look back at all."

Peterson won his first three Test caps in November of last year, including a duel with Fiji's Leone Nakarawa, a soon-to-be Warriors teammate - now it is the World Cup, beginning in September, together with fresh pastures that dominates his focus.

"To make the World Cup I have to play rugby, and play good rugby, and I just haven't played enough in the last four to six months," he says.

"Hopefully, come the Pacific Nations Cup in July, I can get some good solid rugby, let the beast out, and put my foot forwards for selection.

"I love to get the ball in hand, but I do see myself as an old-fashioned second-row. I like to run around, blast people at the rucks, and make solid tackles, big hits, then whenever I get the opportunity to run the ball, I'm going to run over people.

"It's been hard because I haven't played a lot at the top level, but I'm trying to create the profile as a big bruiser."