In a move that may draw comment from certain areas (well, Craig Chalmers) Peter Horne has been handed the fly-half jersey on his 50th appearance for Glasgow Warriors as Scott Wight sits on the bench. Fresh from their demolition of the Newport Gwent Dragons, the Warriors are seeking their sixth league win in a row when they host the PRO12 league leaders, Ulster, on Friday night.
Horne has been given the task of orchestrating from the pivot in a top of the table battle; the Warriors sit seven points behind Ulster in the PRO12 as second and first placed.
Up front it’s a familiar tale of a scramble to find available props. Ryan Grant, Jon Welsh and Moray Low are all on Scotland duty while Gordon Reid has not been passed fit after suffering concussion at the weekend in the game against Dragons. EDP prop George Hunter is still recovering from a foot injury suffered in December while Mike Cusack is recovering from a shoulder injury. That means a second start this season for Tongan Ofa Fainga’anuku and a return to starting duties for Ed Kalman. The front row is bolstered by the inclusion of Pat MacArthur. Garry Mountford from Stirling County and Luke Pettie from Gala RFC have joined up with the Warriors to deputise the tight-head and loose-head roles respectively, while the third front row sub is also filled from the club game by Heriot’s hooker Fraser Brown.
Tim Swinson and Tom Ryder return as a familiar partnership in the second-row with a classy back row formed by Josh Strauss, John Barclay and skipper Ryan Wilson.
Glasgow Warriors team to play Ulster in Round 16 of the RaboDirect PRO12, Scotstoun Stadium, Friday 22 February (kick-off, 7.35pm): 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Peter Horne, 9 Niko Matawalu, 1 Ofa Fainga’anuku, 2 Pat MacArthur, 3 Ed Kalman, 4 Tim Swinson, 5 Tom Ryder, 6 Josh Strauss, 7 John Barclay, 8 Ryan Wilson (Captain)
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Luke Pettie, 18 Garry Mountford, 19 Nick Campbell, 20 James Eddie, 21 Sean Kennedy, 22 Scott Wight, 23 Graeme Morrison
(Live on BBC2 NI and BBC Alba)
Meanwhile Edinburgh Rugby will give youth a chance in their match against champions, Ospreys, in Swansea (kick-off 8pm).
In all there are nine players in the squad aged 23 or under, with a combination of injuries and international call-ups handing highly-rated flanker Hamish Watson (21) his first start for the club after seven appearances off the bench.
Four of the nine youngsters will start the match: Harry Leonard (20) is promoted from the bench, while Dougie Fife (22), Stuart McInally (22) and Greig Tonks (23) retain their places at wing, back-row and full-back.
Grant Gilchrist and Izak van der Westhuizen both sustained ankle injuries in last weekend’s home loss to Cardiff Blues, so Perry Parker and captain Sean Cox form a new second-row, with 21-year-old Robert McAlpine joining as the lock replacement on the bench.
Tight-head prop Willem Nel replaces Geoff Cross who, like David Denton, has rejoined Scotland’s RBS 6 Nations squad, with prop Alex Allan (20) taking the vacated place on the bench alongside fellow front-row replacements Andy Titterrell and Allan Jacobsen.
With Edinburgh Rugby’s forward resources at their limit, the club complete the bench with four backs instead of the common-place three: Chris Leck, Piers Francis (22), Ben Cairns and Tom Brown (22).
The rest of the squad from last weekend is unchanged, with the notable inclusion of Fiji captain Netani Talei set to make his 50th appearance for the club.
Edinburgh Rugby team to play Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium on Friday 22 February (kick-of 8pm): 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Ben Atiga, 11 Lee Jones, 10 Harry Leonard, 9 Richie Rees; 1 John Yapp, 2 Steven Lawrie, 3 Willem Nel, 4 Perry Parker, 5 Sean Cox (captain), 6 Stuart McInally, 7 Hamish Watson, 8 Netani Talei
Replacements: 16 Andy Titterrell, 17 Allan Jacobsen, 18 Alex Allan, 19 Robert McAlpine, 20 Chris Leck, 21 Piers Francis, 22 Ben Cairns, 23 Tom Brown
(Live on BBC 2 Wales)