WITH his final exams now out the way, Ross Thompson has only his dissertation – “on athletes’ freedom of speech and whether major in-house sporting organisations can restrict their athletes’ freedom of speech” – to see off before completing his law degree at Glasgow University. 

Easier said than done, especially when you are a full-time professional rugby player gearing up for a win or bust play-off match against European superpower Leinster this Saturday, with a trip to South America with Scotland this summer hopefully to look forward to as well. An announcement of the squad for that international expedition is expected midway through next week. 

“I don’t know, but I’m going to have to get it done somehow,” the unflappable Thompson shrugs, when asked how he is going to fit his dissertation in. 

First things first, Saturday’s match against Leinster is his sole focus for the time being. “I can’t wait, I’m really exciting,” he says. “It’s probably one of the biggest games I’ve played since I’ve been here. It’s where we want to be – in the quarter-final stages of competitions – so I think everyone is looking forward to it and excited. 

Leinster will start the match as big favourite on home soil, but Thompson’s experiences in the three matches he has played for Warriors against the Dubliners so far during his fledgling career means he is respectful but definitely not overwhelmed by the challenge ahead. 

He came off the bench when Warriors were down to 14 men – following the red-carding of Adam Hastings – when the two sides met at the RDS last February and helped orchestrate a plucky second half revival, before a brainless yellow-carding by TJ Ioane killed off the chances of a shock win. 

He was then in the No.10 shirt when Warriors beat Leinster 15-12 in their final game of last season (albeit in a meaningless match), and the 23-year-old feels that his team can be a lot better than they were when he was at full-back during a 15-31 loss to Leinster at Scotstoun back in October.  

“They can be beaten,” Thompson quickly replies, when asked what he and his team-mates made of Leinster’s heart-breaking loss to La Rochelle in last weekend’s European Champions Cup Final. “They played some good rugby but from that game and a couple of other games they’ve played recently we’ve identified some things we can maybe challenge them on. 

“If we get it right on the day and put in a 10 out of 10 performance we can challenge them, at least, and hopefully get a win.”