It’s been an off-season of movement for Glasgow and Gregor Townsend. Leone Nakarawa has finally been lured away by sunnier climates and a bigger pay cheque, while Taqele Naiyaravoro has left to pursue his dream of being a sub-standard Wallabies winger. Duncan Weir and the Bryce brothers have moved along the M8 for the prospect of regular rugby, and over 10 other players have either joined alternative clubs, been released or retired.
This means that new faces have had to set up sticks in Scotstoun, with the usual Townsend mixture of the experienced, the young, the Fijian, lesser-known nationalities, and lesser-known youngsters. Let’s have a look at them and what they could bring.
A 24-year-old Kiwi prop with two Super Rugby appearances to his name. Tana Umaga once called him one of the top tightheads in New Zealand, and he arrives in Scotland with the reputation of a specialist scrummager. He needs to work more on his impact in the loose but he should eventually rival Zander Fagerson for a spot behind Sila Puafisi. Townsend has said though that “initially he’ll be working with the conditioning staff to integrate him to the rugby we aspire to play”.
One of the players in the ‘experienced’ list. Townsend obviously feels that Fraser Brown and Pat MacArthur need a kick up the butt from the 35-year-old All Black to reach their full potential. With 15 New Zealand caps, 150 appearances for Crusaders and two years in France playing for Toulouse, Flynn brings with him a wealth of skill and experience. Signed on a two-year deal, Glasgow obviously feel that he can still bring a lot to the table and he may almost instantly steal the starting hooker role.
A straight swap for Big T and should really be starting on the wing alongside Tommy Seymour. At just 24, Sarto already has 30 caps and eight tries for Italy and has the potential to be in Conor O’Shea’s squad for many years to come. At 6’4” and just under 15 stone, the Italian is shaped in the mould of a modern winger and is the perfect man to have at the end of Glasgow’s electric backline.
Having already spent time at Glasgow as cover during the Rugby World Cup, fly-half Clegg obviously did enough to secure a one-year contract until the end of the 2017 season. A deadly kicker with a beautiful eye for space, Clegg has been a regular for Newcastle Falcons and Harlequins and has also played abroad in Sydney and France. Should provide the perfect backup for Finn Russell and will hold his own in the starting lineup when Townsend starts his usual squad rotation.
Ah, the token Fijian. Number nine Kenatale has been a fairly regular item in the Fiji national team for eight years now, but has failed to play at a higher standard of club than Kiwi side Southland or Romanian outfit Farul Constanta (nope, me neither). At 30, he comes in as a replacement for the retired Mike Blair and to provide competition and experience for Henry Pyrgos, Grayson Hart and Ali Price. Signed on a one-year contract but may stay longer if he impresses.
Hopefully the new Nakarawa – just Namibian instead of Fijian. Lock Uanivi brought attention to himself during the recent World Cup by impressing in a relatively poor Namibia side that got spanked by everyone bar Georgia. Certainly not signed for the enforcer role, Uanivi is an athletic player that is an obvious choice to hit in the lineout. He won’t provide big hits but he has a tendency to strip the ball in contact and he has some gas about him. Struggled to make an impact at Brive or the Sharks and will be behind Jonny Gray, Rob Harley and Tim Swinson to begin with.
Having been at the club since March, Sears-Duru should hopefully already be up to speed with how the Warriors play. Joining a growing number of Canadians to have played for Glasgow, Sears-Duru is a young loosehead with raw strength. At just 19 he is going to struggle to start many games but could provide competition for a place on the bench, once his game and his skillset have been refined.
Plucking a 23-year-old fly-half from the Canterbury leagues in New Zealand seems like a strange signing, even for Gregor Townsend, until you realise that he qualifies for Scotland through his grandmother. He was top scorer in the Canterbury league before signing though, and he is allowed to play for Glasgow Hawks when not with the Warriors, so expect him to spend most of his time there. It’s doubtful that you’ll see him in a Glasgow shirt before the Six Nations, if at all this season.