With the 1872 Cup kicking off on Monday (1735GMT kickoff, coverage via BBC Alba), we take a look at some of the key team matchups for the game.
Visser vs O’Hare/Jones vs DTHVDM: although the match is practically a Scotland trial, we start with the battle of two who are only marginally Scottish – one a Dutchman and one a Welsh rugby League player – who have nonetheless won the hearts of their local support. If Visser is fit he should win this clearly, given his try scoring form so far. On the other wing you have a Dutch-sounding Canadian and a Scotsman who sounds like he should be Welsh. DTH for power, Jones for pace, so that contest could arguably be more interesting.
Centres: The current Scotland pair against two players who have been bubbling under for a while since Robinson’s reign began in Cairns and Houston. The starters favour Glasgow but Edinburgh have two ball playing centres on the bench as well as Webster who has deputised there in the past, giving them a real opportunity to shake things up to challenge Morrison and Evans.
Jackson vs Blair: Blair has it in the kicking department but the two caps seem to have given Jackson a little extra confidence with the ball. Should see off any challenge as Parks successor – at least until Weir recovers.
Back row: As Toulouse showed, the breakdown is an area where the whole nature of a Glasgow performance can be controlled, and it was only when they refused to take dictation that Glasgow came into their own. Not quite the killer Bs for the Weege, but alongside John Barclay comes fellow headband of doom-wearing loon Richie Vernon and The Big Red One Rob Harley who, if not yet quite displaying the class of the old unit, are collectively offering a workrate in both attack and defence that will cause Beattie real problems when he comes back from injury. Kelly who? Edinburgh have their own flame-haired warrior (perhaps he could be Little Red One?) in the form of captain Roddy Grant who still puts the work in, although perhaps not as apparently as last season in his new position of Number 8. Up against Barclay at the bottom of the pileup, this is Ross Rennie’s big chance to show he is back and ready to challenge for the Scotland 7 shirt.
Second row: Arguably Scotland’s current first choice locks will face a challenge from a resurgent Edinburgh unit driven by young buck Fraser Mackenzie and the returning Scott Macleod. If Macleod still has the form he was showing in the autumn this could be a crucial matchup and Glasgow might face more of a challenge than expected in this area. Richie Gray will want to make amends for his loss of cool over in France and show he has the temperament for big game rugby.
Front Row: Chunk, Ross and Dr Cross vs the Young Guns (and Fergus Thomson). Edinburgh should edge this one with the experience they bring. Cross and Low will be looking for good games to keep them in the frame now that Euan Murray is threatening a re-emergence at new club Newcastle (he starts for them on Monday). With a lack of a clear second choice hooker and Ford’s form mercurial, Fergus Thomson has a real chance to try and get back into the international setup though – anyone remember the storming season he had for Scotland a few years back?
Edinburgh look the stronger here with a bit more experience plus a couple of game changers (in either direction) in De Luca and Webster.
Overall I would think Glasgow should win this at home. Although both back divisions could run amok in a weak defence, the packs will probably decide the tempo of the game. Both teams are settled and Edinburgh are the least disrupted in recent weeks, and even though Glasgow look the classier on paper, tiredness could well play a part in the outcome of this match. If it does, the result will be close.
So you can do your own analysis, here are the teams in full:
Glasgow Warriors: B Stortoni, H O’Hare, M Evans, G Morrison, DTH van der Merwe, R Jackson, C Gregor, J Welsh, F Thomson, M Low, R Gray, A Kellock (capt), R Harley, J Barclay, R Vernon.
Replacements: D Hall, R Grant, K Tkachuk, A Muldowney, C Fusaro, H Pyrgos, P Murchie, F Aramburu.
Edinburgh: J Thompson, L Jones, B Cairns, J Houston, T Visser, D Blair, G Laidlaw, A Jacobsen, R Ford, G Cross, S MacLeod, F McKenzie, S Newlands, R Grant (capt), R Rennie
Replacements: A Kelly, K Traynor, D Young, S Turnbull, S McInally, J King, N De Luca, S Webster.
Firhill, Glasgow, Monday 1735GMT