Those of us who were worried that Stuart Hogg’s shoulder surgery might have meant missing a fourth chance to play the All Blacks this year can rest a little easier.
He’s back this weekend, to take on Leinster.
Possibly he may try this by himself, but luckily Dave Rennie has another 22 players to give him a hand. Hogg is part of an all international back three of Leo Sarto and Tommy Seymour while Sam Johnson has the job of taking on the in-form Robbie Henshaw. The half backs remain the usual suspects and this game will hopefully be played at pace – although last weekend a lot of teams who usually play that way opted for much less positive approaches with the win-at-all-costs necessity of European rugby.
If Leinster do try and close Glasgow right down it wouldn’t be a surprise. If they can beat the hosts and perhaps deny them even a bonus they will know that all but ends their interest for this campaign and gives them one less thing to worry about. Glasgow on the other hand should be targeting a five pointer and denying Leinster anything to keep up with the furious pace of this Pool.
In the pack, that young first choice front row continues their baptism of fire – this time they will attempt to face off against Sean Cronin and two Lions props. With the scrum perhaps faring better than expected against Exeter (at least early in the game when Fraser Brown was on) this will be their toughest test yet, especially as Brown has injured his knee and will be out for 8 weeks. George Turner had a great game in the loose against Exeter but less so at set-piece so he’s got a bit to prove.
Jonny Gray, who many are talking up as the next Scotland captain (more on that over the weekend) partners Tim Swinson in the second row and the pack is completed by a pretty familiar unit of captain Wilson, Gibbins and Adam Ashe. Ashe has been perhaps the least impressive of the three so far this season despite some good games, but a strong ball carrying performance could put him in a great position with the Scotland squad set to be announced on Monday.
Glasgow Warriors: S Hogg, T Seymour, S Johnson, P Horne, L Sarto, F Russell, A Price; J Bhatti, G Turner, Z Fagerson, T Swinson, J Gray, R Wilson, C Gibbins, A Ashe.
Replacements: P MacArthur, A Allan, D Rae, S Cummings, R Harley, H Pyrgos, N Grigg, L Jones
Leinster: J Carbery, F McFadden, R Henshaw, N Reid, B Daly, J Sexton, L McGrath, C Healy, S Cronin, T Furlong, D Toner, S Fardy, R Ruddock, J van der Flier, J Conan
Replacements: J Tracy, J McGrath, M Bent, J Ryan, D Leavy, J Gibson-Park, R Byrne, D Kearney
Referee: Jerome Garces (Fra)
Unavailable players: Brian Alainu’uese (knee), Bobby Beattie (illness), Fraser Brown (knee), Alex Dunbar (knee), Chris Fusaro (head), Rory Hughes (shoulder), Oli Kebble (foot), Paddy Kelly (ankle), Kiran MacDonald (thigh), Ratu Tagive (achilles), Richie Vernon (achilles), Samuela Vunisa (knee).
Edinburgh meanwhile are over in Russia to face Krasny Yar. Expect a frosty welcome from the side who beat Stade last weekend in Siberia – this match has been moved to Moscow for weather reasons — and Edinburgh will need to keep up the effort that saw them past London Irish last weekend. A win over in the Russian capital would put them in prime position for the pool with back to back matches with Stade to come.
Jason Tovey will once again direct things from 10 with James Johnstone back from injury and added to Edinburgh’s European squad but no sign of Dougie Fife this week, Hoyland and Brown the chosen wingers. Johnstone was very impressive in his previous game and partners with Junior Rasolea who is rewarded for his two tries last week with another start at 12. He’ll look to bring further dynamic to the midfield, something Edinburgh often lack. I don’t imagine playing in Moscow in late October was part of the plan when he left Australia though!
Richard Cockerill is still without his captain who has been benched with a self-inflicted head injury (Cockerill could pick up some tips from the KGB for the inquiry he says is to follow), so try-scorer Luke Crosbie is rewarded with a start at openside while erstwhile Western Force second row Lewis Carmichael returns to the Edinburgh fold at blindside. Jamie Ritchie has been rested from the look of things – might he appear in the Scotland squad come Monday?
The actual second rows are Bresler and Gilchrist with McKenzie on the bench. Up front it’s an experienced group with Allan Dell and WP Nel partnering Neil Cochrane (also captain) in the boilerhouse. There’s a lot of Georgian looking names in the Krasny Yar team. So, bruisers over athletes for this one… it will be a tussle in the forwards from the look of it.
Also returning to the fold are Fijian international Viliame Mata who is part of a competent looking bench. As with Glasgow’s trip to Exeter via South Africa, weathering the travel – and indeed the weather – could be the key in this one.
Krasny Yar: V Artemyev (capt), R Iagudin, I Galinovskiy, L Malaguradze, V Chaban, F Apikotoa, V Dorofeev; S Fukofuka, J Bregvadze, A Bitiev, A Mahu, A Garbuzov, V Gresev, V Arhip, A Ilin.
Replacements: A Kondakov, G Tsnobiladze, M Tsiklauri, E Zykov, A Khudiakov, A Riabov, E Kolomiitcev, K Golosnitskii.
Edinburgh: B Kinghorn, D Hoyland J Johnstone J Rasolea, T Brown, J Tovey, S Hidalgo-Clyne, A Dell, N Cochrane (capt), WP Nel, A Bresler, G Gilchrist, L Carmichael, L Crosbie, C du Preez.
Replacements: S McInally, D Marfo, S Berghan, F McKenzie, V Mata, N Fowles, C Dean, G Bryce.
Referee: Thomas Charabas (France)
Sat 21st October, k.o 10.00 BST