Ali Price was a British and Irish Lions Test player in 2021 and has been firmly established as Scotland’s first choice scrum-half since Greig Laidlaw retired from international rugby after the 2019 World Cup – but reputations count for nothing in Franco Smith’s world.

Since taking over as head coach at Glasgow Warriors in late summer, the wily South African has shaken things up with his no-nonsense approach to getting the team into optimum physical condition, and his bold selection calls which have seen several players who started the season as fringe characters seize their opportunity to take centre stage, with stand-off Tom Jordan the most obvious example of that.

At scrum-half, too, Smith has pushed back against the conventional wisdom of his predecessor Danny Wilson, and of national team head coach Gregor Townsend, by making George Horne his go-to man, with Price finding himself as the support act coming off the bench.

Price has not done much wrong, but his long-time rival’s speed over the ground, eye for a gap and willingness to have a go has provided the Warriors attack with a valuable edge which has helped them pick up five wins on the bounce coming into this weekend.

The older player was given just his third start of the season in last weekend’s 32-25 win over Edinburgh at Murrayfield, but that game only really turned in Glasgow’s favour after Horne came off the bench to score 13 points during the last quarter.

So, it was no great surprise when Price found himself relegated back to replacement duty for this afternoon’s crucial URC match against title holders the Stormers at Scotstoun.

“For any player, it’s obviously frustrating if you’re not playing, but I do understand the process as well,” reflected Price, when asked about his drop down the pecking order. “Other guys are playing well. I respect that. It’s great for the team environment and the squad if other guys are performing and taking their chances.

“So, I know my place and how I fit into the puzzle, and as long as the team’s going well and I can help, then that’s all that really matters.”

It is all very respectful and positive sounding, but you do wonder if a bit more edge from the scrum-half is required – especially as his place in the Scotland team is surely now under threat with the Six Nations just four weeks away.

Price was seen as a live-wire alternative to the steady Laidlaw when he first burst on to the international scene, marking his debut as a replacement against Georgia in November 2016 by breaking from a quick tap-penalty near halfway to launch a sweeping attack which culminated in a fine Stuart Hogg try to seal a 43-16 win at Rugby Park.

However, during Scotland’s post-Laidlaw era, he has developed into more of a game-manager, and there is a danger that this could now be working against the 29-year-old at club level, with Smith looking for more tempo from his half-backs.

“When I think about it, I don’t feel like I’ve ever lost that [attacking instinct],” Price said. “Some of the games I’ve been involved in require a different way of playing, maybe a bit more control.

“Playing an international can sometimes be different from playing a club game, but I don’t think I’ve lost my ability in terms of my running game and stuff like that. If chances come along, I feel I’m still alert enough to take them.

“But I feel like my vision of the game, and the games I’ve been involved in, has lent itself to how I’ve developed into a more experienced, controlling player.”

Price will hope for a decent chunk of time off the bench to showcase his full repertoire of skills against the Stormers’ blitz defence this afternoon.

“If you start taking steps around the breakdown, you’ll probably have to go yourself, because if you take steps and try to distribute then you’ll end up in trouble with their line-speed,” he surmised.

“As a nine, when you’re playing against a team who really fly from out wide in defence and are pretty erratic, it’s a different sort of challenge. You might get more opportunities down the side. So a change of direction will be important. There are strengths and weaknesses to every defence.

“We’ve found a bit of form recently and a way to win games, which is encouraging. Winning becomes a habit, and over the past year-and-a-half or two years, we haven’t quite strung together as many wins as we’d want to.

“We’re far from being the finished article. We’ve still got a lot to improve on and we know the Stormers are going to be a massive challenge for us. But we’re happy with how things are going at the moment and the way that we seem to be trending.”

Glasgow Warriors (at Scotstoun, today, kick-off 3pm): O Smith: S Cancelliere, S Tuipulotu, H Jones, K Steyn©; T Jordan, G Horne; J Bhatti, G Turner, L Sordoni, L Bean, J Du Preez, M Fagerson, S Vailanu, J Dempsey. Substitutes: F Brown, N McBeth, S Berghan, A Samuel, E Ferrie, C Neild, A Price, D Miotti.

Stormers: C Blommetjies; S Hartzenberg, D du Plessis, DWillemse, L Zas; M Libbok, P de Wet; S Kitshoff©, J Deba, N Fouche, B Dixon, M Orie, D Fourie, W Engelbrecht, H Dayimani. Substitutes: J Kotze, B Harris, S Sandi, C Evans, J Pokomela, M Theunissen, I Khan, A Davids