Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Glasgow’s New Players

Gregor Townsend - pic © Al Ross
Gregor Townsend - pic © Al Ross

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.

Jarrod Firth

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”.

Corey Flynn

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.

Leonardo Sarto

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.

Rory Clegg

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.

Nemia Kenatale

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.

Tjiuee Uanivi

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.

Djustice Sears-Duru

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.

Hagen Schulte

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.

8 Responses

  1. One small thing – Djustice is actually 22. Given his performances for Canada this summer, could be seeing him sooner rather than later.

  2. A couple of great signings so far, along with a few “left field” ones.

    Corey Flynn will be a great addition to the front row – tons of experience and ability, and he’ll hopefully bring a bit of that to Brown and McArthur.

    Leonardo Sarto has, in my opinion, strengthened the wing options after the departure of Naiyavoro, who was defensively awful. Sarto has International pedigree and has always impressed whenever I’ve seen him.

    I don’t know enough about Uanivi to comment, but seems like Toonie is trying to unearth another diamond in an unlikely place, and the remaining signings are to bolster the squad.

    I had hoped that we’d have a more marquee-type signing to replace Nakarawa, but perhaps the funds from that transaction have largely gone towards getting the new pitch in place.

  3. I thought that the pitch was being jointly funded? The city council, sportscotland and Warriors/SRU I’m sure we’re the names on the cheques. I think this would be a separate pot from the SRU coffers which would be put through the Glasgow books rather than direct from the clubs’ own budget.

    If this is the case then there should still be a bit of money left over for one big signing, although it is getting late in the day for any other players to be fully integrated in time for the start of the season.

    I think it’s a sign of how far Glasgow have come that they “only” made the pro12 play-offs last season after being champions the season before. It is important that Glasgow at least maintain a spot in the semi-finals, while aiming to win the league each year. You have to be realistic and say that you may not win the title each year, but you should accept nothing less than being in contention. The squad looks capable of this, although with so many changes there may be an element of the dreaded “transition” about the team this year.

    With regards to Europe, it is going to be a hard campaign, but this year could be the breakthrough. Munster are still up for the fight, but seem to be treading water where they always used to be making waves. Leicester flattered to deceive making the semis of the RCC last season. They were woeful in the game against Racing in Nottingham. I’ll be at Welford Road for the visit of Glasgow and I think that is very winnable. Racing are the dogs doodahs when it comes to rugby quality, but 1 result could be enough against them. The key to this success will be having the Scotland squad players available for a whole season. Glasgow will be proud of the level of representation at RWC, but it undoubtedly had an impact on the clubs season.

    Anyone know how many sleeps it is til the new season starts?

    1. In terms of Europe, my view is Glasgow can play some terrific running rugby that compares with anything out there, but it’s whether the scrum can hold up against the big beasts of England and France. Important year coming up for the likes of Fargarson and Reid in the front row, and I think Cummings looks genuine class to partner Gray. The imports are a bit of an unknown quantity, but then so was Nakawara ! One or more of Strauss, Wilson or Ashe needs to step up to become a genuine hard yards ball carrier and tackle breaker at European ( and international ) level.

      1. Can’t argue with that Chiel, strong scrummaging is going to play a big part in any successful European side. If a side has scrum dominance then they can start launching the big beasts off the back row – think O’Brien, Vunipola, Faletau and this is so tiring to defend against. You are right in saying that one of those three needs to become that bad-assed line breaker at the top level.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion