STUART Hogg enhanced his burgeoning reputation further today as he produced a near perfect performance in the more unfamiliar role of fly-half.
A fair share of eyebrows were raised when the 20-year-old was selected in the stand-off role – a position he hadn’t played in since his days at Mansfield Park back in season 2009/10.
But, with Owen Farrell and Jonathan Sexton both carrying injuries, Hogg repaid the faith shown in him by coach Warren Gatland with a barnstorming display against the Combined County XV.
And, fresh from his stint at full-back on Saturday against the Queensland Reds, the young Teri was cheered on by hundreds of Hawick fans watching on television back home.
After today’s victory in Newcastle, where Hogg scored his first try for the British and Irish Lions after just 11 minutes, he admitted he enjoyed his return to the number ten jersey.
He said; “I was a bit nervous coming into this game, obviously not playing ten for a long time but I settled in pretty well and I enjoyed it which was the main thing.
“As the game went on I was getting more and more relaxed and that’s exactly what I want to be like, to enjoy my rugby and it showed out there it’s great fun.”
As well as playing a pivotal role in the link-up play as the Lions recorded an emphatic 64-0 victory, Hogg was also charged with the kicking duties during the first half of the match against the amateurs from New South Wales.
And he was given a baptism of fire after just eight minutes with a tough conversion from the right-hand touchline. But he showed no signs of nerves as he belted it over, adding a further three to his first-half tally before Leigh Halfpenny took over with the boot after the break.
He said: “Playing ten is hard enough but when you’ve got the goal-kicking duties as well it’s a big ask but I was happy to step up to the role.”
Hogg received praise from former Scotland and Lions star Scott Hastings who said the Glasgow Warriors ace could go on to make the fly-half jersey his own for his country.
And Lions coach Rob Howley was also complimentary of the youngster.
He said; “He’s got natural talent. He’s a great footballer, he’s got great feet and he doesn’t have a bad kicking game either.
“I thought he facilitated our centres and our back line particularly well. We wanted them to play nice and flat and he went out there on that cliff and gave opportunities to Jamie and Drico and the outside backs.
“I’m delighted for Stuart because he can play there and he’ll have other opportunities as well.”