Glasgow will provide 19 players to the Scotland squad this autumn, and with the league now probably his main priority for the season following a dispiriting loss to Leinster last weekend, Dave Rennie will still want to keep the unbeaten league run going.
He has started to bring the younger talent on stream quickly in some areas like the front row where he has picked the same unit again and again all season, but soon he might not have much choice elsewhere.
The visit of the Southern Kings to Scotstoun provides just the right sort of excuse to start experimenting, with mixed results so far from the weaker of the two new South African sides who are without their first choice fly-half but do have star fullback Masixole Banda fit. Not being involved in Europe has given the African teams a chance to rest and strengthen their squads. Most of the players had no pre-season as a group and/or a tight turnaround from Super Rugby for those that were involved. We could see a different side to them in this next batch of games which would boost the quality of the tournament with the Italian sides also looking much improved at times.
The team Rennie has selected should have enough backbone in case of mishap, with Stuart Hogg and Jonny Gray still working back to form and fitness – although Hoggy was class against Leinster and may just be keen for match sharpness with an eye on the Internationals to come, Gray hasn’t looked quite right since his surgery and Scott Cummings is rapidly gaining on him.
Rob Harley will captain the side with Ryan Wilson rested, while Adam Hastings returns from injury in time for his first Warriors start to partner the zippy George Horne. With Adam Ashe requiring ankle surgery expected to keep him out for 10-12 weeks, it’s a big opportunity for Matt Fagerson to nail down a starting spot in the Number 8 shirt that Ashe has been in solid control of this season.
Speaking of big number 8s, could Cummings be tried out there please Dave? Maybe not right now, but once Gregor gives all the lads back.
With Hogg back in the fullback shirt, Ruaridh Jackson drops to the bench to provide some in-form cover across the backline. As mentioned there are plenty of faces who haven’t seen much game time given a shot, including Lelia Masaga, Stafford McDowall, Niko Matawalu, Adam Nicol and Ryan Grant drafted in.
The backline still looks pretty handy, with Sam Johnson, Niko Matawalu and Nick Grigg all capable of cutting teams open if the pack can provide decent quality ball.
Speaking of quality backs, good luck to Huw Jones who starts at 12 in the Currie Cup final for Western Province this weekend. Next stop Glasgow?
Glasgow Warriors: 15. Stuart Hogg, 14. Lee Jones, 13. Nick Grigg, 12. Sam Johnson, 11. Niko Matawalu, 10. Adam Hastings, 9. George Horne; 1. Alex Allan, 2. Pat MacArthur, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Scott Cummings, 5. Jonny Gray, 6. Robert Harley (CAPT), 7. Matt Smith, 8. Matt Fagerson (13)
Replacements: 16. George Turner, 17. Ryan Grant, 18. Adam Nicol , 19. Greg Peterson, 20. Lewis Wynne, 21. Ruaridh Jackson, 22. Stafford McDowall, 23. Lelia Masaga
Southern Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu (VC), 11 Alshaun Bock, 10 Martin Du Toit, 9 Rudi van Rooyen; 1 Schalk Ferreira,
2 Michael Willemse (CAPT), 3 Rossouw De Klerk, 4 Stephan Greeff, 5 Bobby De Wee, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Jurie van Vuuren, 8 Ruaan Lerm.
Replacements: 16 Tango Balekile, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Martin Dreyer, 19 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20 Khaya Majola, 21 Rowan Gouws, 22 Oliver Zono, 23 Jacques Nel
Unavailable Glasgow players: Adam Ashe (ankle), Brian Alanu’uise (knee), Fraser Brown (knee), Alex Dunbar (knee), Callum Gibbins (head), Pete Horne (head), Rory Hughes (shoulder), Oli Kebble (foot), Paddy Kelly (ankle), Kiran McDonald (thigh), Henry Pyrgos (neck), Ratu Tagive (achilles), Richie Vernon (achilles), Samuela Vunisa (knee) and Ryan Wilson (head).
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