After last Saturday night’s demoralizing home loss to the Dragons, Danny Wilson did not hold back as he sought to shake up his Glasgow Warriors, adding eight internationals to his squad for tomorrow’s European Champions Cup clash against defending champions Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park.
Loosehead prop Oli Kebble, hooker George Turner, Zander Fagerson’s tight-head prop and second-row Scott Cummings reinforce the front five, while Matt Fagerson is expected from the number 8 position to provide dynamism in the back-row.
In the back row, as a scrum-half, Ali Price will look to continue his consistent Scottish form, although this week he said he would like a few more chances to threaten with the ball in hand.
The midfield will be boosted by Sam Johnson, while Huw Jones will have to deal with a spot on the bench behind Glenn Bryce, who was one of the few autumn window success stories. This week, he was appointed the Warriors’ Player of the Month and can certainly secure a longer contract than the four months before Christmas he has.
Co-captain Fraser Brown, who is on the injured list but expects to be back against Lyon next Saturday at Scotstoun, is conspicuous by his absence.
“Fraser’s a bit banged up, if I’m honest,” Warriors coach Wilson said. He’s got a bit of a shoulder and neck issue that we gave him as long as we could before we made a decision, and this week he wasn’t able to train at all.
“It’s a thing of the short-term. I hope it’s not more than a week, but it’s so serious that if we used him this week, we might have lost him a lot longer, so it’s the right decision.
Fortunately, at the hooker spot, the Warriors are well-stocked, and the results of Turner in the Scotland national team during the fall show that he deserves his place in the starting lineup this weekend, while Grant Stewart, who was also called up to the national team, should contribute from the bench.
It’s fantastic,” enthuses Wilson. “There aren’t many teams in Scotland that line up with two hookers, but for a while, Glasgow has been doing that.
George would have played a little more rugby [in the last two months]if he’d come back for us, but the circumstances mean that he’d have played a little bit more off the bench than he’d expected for Scotland, so that was fine.
“He’s obviously excited to start in this game and it’s a great opportunity for him to show not only us but Scotland what he’s capable of – because I think we’ve seen some really good outings from him in the autumn.”
There is no question that Turner and all of his teammates will need to be at their best tomorrow. The double winners of last year’s English Premiership and European Champions Cup have taken their strong form with three wins from three league games – by an average margin of almost 30 points per game – into this season.
And the return of their international contingent, including the Scottish quartet of Stuart Hogg, Jonny Gray and Sam Skinner, all in the starting eleven, and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, who is on the bench, will raise the Chiefs, like the Warriors.
“Wilson acknowledged, “They have some pretty good guys in there.” “I think they’ve built a really deep squad over a long period of time.
Many years ago, I practiced against them in the Championship and they grew to the point that they could sign players like Hoggy and Jonny.
“We built this the hard way. They built it the hard way, not with big budgets, but with a lot of local talent scouting down there in a rugby hotbed, and they took a lot of people down there through the club who made it from the Championship to the Premiership, qualified for Europe, and ultimately won in Europe—so it’s a pretty amazing story.
Wilson’s appreciation is transparent and completely justified, but for 80 minutes tomorrow afternoon, he wants his team to set aside any awe.
As we know, it’s a tough year, but I think we go into every competition with the ambition of winning.
And we are up against last year’s best team this time,” he said. “So we’re going to find out soon – it’s a major test. But that is, that is
That’s what both of us are here for, huh?