Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Glasgow Make Two New Signings

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In some news that is sure to please and frustrate in equal measure, Glasgow Warriors have announced two new foreign signings today. Australian centre Sam Johnson comes in from the Queensland Reds and USA Eagles international lock Greg Peterson comes in from Leicester Tigers with the duo set to be at Scotstoun until at least May 2017, subject to medical.

21-year-old Johnson first played schoolboy rugby for Australia ‘A’ after winning the Associated Independent Colleges competition with St Edmund’s College in 2011. He played Rugby League for the Gold Coast Titans U20s after school, before returning to Rugby Union at the end of 2013, when he joined the Reds wider training squad and returned to his former club GPS.

Johnson impressed the Reds coaching staff in 2014 as a regular in the midfield for Reds ‘A’ and GPS, which led to him making his Queensland Reds debut off the bench against the Western Force in Perth. He then went on to play five matches for Queensland Country in Australia’s National Rugby Championship.

To date he has made two Super Rugby appearances for the Reds and has been named on the bench a further three times.

24-year-old Peterson has been capped three times for USA and joined Leicester Tigers in December from Super Rugby side, NSW Waratahs. He has played three times for the Aviva Premiership side.

The Australian-born lock, who was with the Waratahs for five years after joining their Academy in 2009, has made one Super Rugby appearance.

In 2010, he made his Shute Shield debut for Manly, making his mark by winning the 2010 Shute Shield Rookie of the Year award in his first year out of school. The towering forward, who stands at 6 foot 8 and weighs more than 19 stone, represented Australia U20s on eight occasions.

Peterson comes from a strong athletic background with his father having played American Football for Northwestern University in Chicago and his grandfather having played in one of the first ever rugby union games in the United States.

While he’s picked up a couple of caps, Johnson may well have been selected with one eye on the dreaded qualification on residency.

With Alex Dunbar and Mark Bennett currently injured and more than likely away with the Scotland squad during the World Cup should they recover in time, it is a sensible move from Townsend to sign up some cover, even with Fraser Lyle and Richie Vernon continuing to impress. Likewise Peterson may well be designed to fill the hole left by Jonny Gray and Tim Swinson in the second row which will also be without the retiring Al Kellock next year.

22 Responses

  1. For me this raises a question about Keiran Low. With the addition of another lock to the squad, will he be focusing on the blindside? Rob Harley is the only specialist blindside in Glasgow’s ranks, made evident by his ever-presence in the lineup (I think he played every regular season game last year.) Perhaps Low has been brought in to offer him some competition and occasionally some rest.

  2. I think we can be expect Harley, Gray and Swinson to be absent for the WC chunk of the pro season’s off (with Nakawara very likely to be on WC duty too), so I would say Low has been brought in to fundamentally cover, and subsequently offer competition.These signings seem very much squad players. However, the recent signing strategy (Is it SRU high heid yins, the pro management, or a combination?) has turned out some very decent players of late, so I reserve judgement and will wait to see how they turn out. Niko, DTH, Maitland constitute a substantial loss for the Weej though. It’s a wee bit of a catch 22; Glasgow have developed some great players, who have subsequently been capped and are achieving. However, balancing the books between the increased wage rate and the increased gate rate must be a tricky old business.

  3. Just watched a 5-minute montage of Sam Johnson on youtube and he looks some player. Of course, these are all the best bits, and I’m not sure how good the opposition were, but he looks to have poise, pace and power, as well as an eye for a gap. Seems like a great catch to me, especially given the major international windows next year. Perhaps doesn’t yet have the gas over 70 yards if his kick and chase towards the end of video is any evidence, but he looks like he’ll thrive with Glasgow’s style.

    1. Just watched the 5 minute vid and he looks a player. Looks a cross between Alex Dunbar and Jonathan Joseph

  4. These two have undoubtedly been brought in with a view to the WC. I do agree with Matto though, we seriously need to replace the gas we’re losing in DTH, Maitland and Niko. The fact that Niko had to play on the wing on Saturday tells it’s own story. We also could do with beefing up the front row, as was evident during the first half against Connacht. Kieran Low is a squad player at best, I genuinely have no idea why we signed him.

    1. I reckon Niko has played more often on the wing for the past two seasons than he has at scrum half. Presumably because Townshend still wanted his game-breaking ability but was tired with his poor service and often erratic decision-making in one of the most tactically important positions. Not to mention the fact that Pyrgos has come on leaps and bounds over the past couple of years.

      We definitely do need more wing cover but of those three players Maitland is the only player who arrived with a substantial reputation. Niko was playing amateur rugby in Fiji (despite having test caps in 15s and 7s) when Glasgow signed him whilst DTH had broken through at the 2007 world cup, signed for Saracens but only played one game for the first team before breaking his ankle and being out of the game for 18 months. Glasgow took him on and the rest is history. I only bring this up because I think Glasgow has a good record of signing unheralded players and turning some into stars and others into very good pro-12 players.

      Glasgow don’t have the money to pay their new Scottish test players like Bennett and Gray the salaries they deserve and sign top rate foreign talent. Until they start winning tournament money in Europe, enjoying capacity gates at every match and securing significant sponsorship on their own this isn’t going to change. So I am confident someone else will step up at Glasgow to fill their shoes.

      1. I agree with your assessment of Niko, but by and large I would say Townsend has still played him more at scrum half, but used him more as an impact player off the bench when the game becomes more disjointed. Niko can actually be more of a liability on the wing ( First half of Toulon game springs to mind), given his tendency to go wandering. For me Pyrgos is light years ahead in terms of distribution and game management.

        I do think Glasgow seem to have a good scouting network, and I also think that we do consistently seem to improve players, so I have faith in the management. Losing Niko and Maitland, whilst disappointing, is far from the end of the world and frees up significant wages. DTH is definitely a blow, especially given that he is moving to a lower rival, and IMO taking a step backwards.

        This year is massively important, as I feel we’ll never have a better chance to win the Pro12, it’s just disappointing that so many of our first choice back line are injured.

      2. FF – Glasgow are making continual improvement, year on year, in terms of attendances etc.

        We deffo need at least one winger and a new TH would be nice.

        Kieran Low I think is a decent signing as Harley has played too much rugby over the past 2 seasons and could do with some off weeks to focus on increasing his size.

    2. The video footage shows Sam as a good direct runner, I can see him working well with Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour,I hope he is a team player, those tries all looked like solo contribution.

      DTH is a huge blow , a consistent performer and try scoring machine.

      Niko lifted Scostoun on dreary evenings, it will be intereting to see how Bath manage him, what game time he gets and where they play him. (For all his antics and skill, he is consistenly , inconsistent )

      Maitland , unlike the others , started well and never really took off for me. He needs to do something to break that flat line performance.

      However I have faith that the best announcements are yet to come.

      Until then, there is the Pro 12 to win and that will really attract the top of the affordable talent to Scotstoun.

      1. What would your reaction be if there were no better announcements? Confident for next season or concerned?

      2. I would be slightly concerned. The forwards aren’t too bad, agree we need a TH, but at the moment we’re pretty much playing with what we’ll have for next season in the backs, with the exception of Niko. Obviously Bennett and Dunbar are to return, but we really have no outstanding wingers other than Seymour. Right now we are very stretched, and only a couple of injuries away from a crisis in the back division. If Hogg or Tommy Seymour got injured just now we’ll be in trouble and short of firepower.

      3. Murchie is a very able deputy for Hogg, the centres are very strong, we have two Scottish international 10’s. I would suggest we need one quality winger and a quality tight head and we will be at least as good next season.

    3. FF = It is a hypothetical question and who is to say they will be good, if Ronaldo signed for Greenock Morton (for example), he will not be Ronaldo anymore. What we know about them is all in the past.

      They are joining one of the top 4 clubs in the Pro 12 over the last 2 seasons so what is there to lose confidence about.

      There will be other announcements. Why do you think that there will not be ?

  5. On a slightly different note, and not meaning to hijack a thread, a few friends and I were discussing the old Sco/Ire v Eng/Wal crossovers and who would make each side today. In terms of the Sco/Ire side the general consensus was that obviously the Irish would make up the majority of the side. J Gray would probably be the sole forward from Scotland in the starting 15, but the irony being that there is an argument that from 12 onwards the backline would be mainly/all Scots. The England/Wales side, well we would be here all night!! It was quite an interesting discussion and I’m just curious as to people’s thoughts? I think it would be a brilliant fixture to revive, but probably not possible nowadays given the hectic schedule professional players already face.

    1. I would pick J Gray, not sure many Irish would. Despite his heroic performances in the 6N and for Glasgow I don’t think many fans outside Scotland really rate him yet, certainly not in England. The Irish would I’m sure have Iain Henderson ahead of him, who is an exceptional player but has not yet made the impact at test level or even domestic level Gray has.

      Dunbar v Henshaw is an argument that would split down national lines, although we’d be right. Bennett would be in, as would Hogg for me (but again I’m not sure you’d convince many Irish who would certainly go for Kearney) but the wing places would be more contentious. I think Bowe would be the only guaranteed winger, I’d rate Seymour next but he really has to make an impact in a 6N to win the same admiration outside Scotland.

      Despite the obvious potential of many Scottish players I don’t think they are rated by the fans of other nations because they haven’t yet impressed at test or European level for the most part – reckon if you had the same conversation with Irish fans the whole team would only have 2/3 Scots in at most. Scottish fans tend to seize on exceptional performances like Glasgow v Bath as credible evidence but until we have some titles, 6N victories, Lions caps and ECC SF and Finals our guys aren’t going to get huge recognition.

      Just my opinion – I think we have a lot of quality in the current squad but still look hugely callow.

    2. I think more of an interesting discussion would be who would make a Lions side/squad.

      At the moment, if all were fit, on form and playing their very best – Gray x 2, Hogg, Bennett, Dunbar would be strong contenders for the squad.

      1. I think it is very unlikely Richie Gray would be in a current Lions squad. There is just too much talent to compete with.

        Bennett would struggle to get in the squad ahead of JJ, Tuilangi, J Davies. Even Henshaw would be a competitor in his position for Connacht (the Irish rate him every bit as much as we rate Bennett although I’m not convinced).

        Hogg too would be far from guaranteed a place ahead of Halfpenny, Brown and Kearney. There would certainly be no need to bring him as an auxiliary 10 like last time as Ford and Biggar would have strong claims.

        Thank God it is the World Cup and not a Lions tour this summer as we’d have another bitterly disappointing experience. Even our strongest contenders wouldn’t be automatic picks.

      2. Lost interest in the Lions after Woodward and his shambolic 2005 squad shamed the history of the team. Leaving out Blair, Paterson, Hines, Scott Murray and Jason White in favour of has been englishmen, crap Irishmen and journeymen taffs who fluked the grand slam that year unbelievably (Gareth Cooper??? Andy Titterel?? michael Owen?? John Hayes?? graham Rowntree?? FFS!) was the nail in the coffin for me. Ok, Scotland played rubbish under Matt Williams but those above would, in my opinion, have graced any other (properly coached) team in that years six nations.

    3. With regret no one will be picked, for the test side if it was here and now. Some that would make the test team today , will be past their peak by the next tour . We do have a few safe, if not exciting, pairs of hands, however so does every nation. Right now , we cannot keep people out of the medical room long enough to see if they have any potential.

      Who cares , both Glasgow and Edinburgh are in for a great end to the season. Let’s celebrate that for now.

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