Glasgow will end their European campaign at home to Exeter with an unsatisfied whimper rather than the bangs we had expected under Dave Rennie, who it could be said is taking a little longer to bed in at Scotstoun. It has also been interesting that under Jason O’Halloran, Scotland offloaded actually very little but Glasgow do not seem to have curbed their enthusiasm as much since he moved there. We may not see the true nature of Rennie’s Warriors until he’s had a bit more of a say in recruitment for next season, but Callum Gibbins probably epitomises his intended hard-nosed approach and Glasgow haven’t been as effective since his injury earlier in the season.
With injuries in mind, there are last-minute recalls for a number of big names hoping to play in the Six Nations and find some sharpness. But if you’re a Scotland fan, the sight of large chunks of the international backline playing in a meaningless game the week before the Six Nations training camp could set the heart fluttering slightly.
Tommy Seymour hitting good form would, of course, be brilliant, as would some sign that Stuart Hogg has shaken off his injuries. Then get him off! Alex Dunbar, like the other three, will also play his first game of the year.
The Scotstoun faithful will share fewer of these concerns and demand a win. That’s possibly why Rennie has beefed up the team that got hammered by Leinster last weekend with Jonny Gray and all those backs this week. Having done a solid job against Tadgh Furlong last weekend, Jamie Bhatti could be the one to watch.
Glasgow: 15. Stuart Hogg, 14. Tommy Seymour, 13. Huw Jones, 12. Alex Dunbar, 11. Leonardo Sarto, 10. Finn Russell, 9. George Horne; 1. Jamie Bhatti, 2. George Turner, 3. Siua Halanukonuka, 4. Rob Harley, 5. Jonny Gray (Capt), 6. Matt Fagerson, 7. Matt Smith, 8. Adam Ashe.
Replacements: 16. Grant Stewart, 17. Alex Allan, 18. D’Arcy Rae, 19. Greg Peterson, 20. Chris Fusaro, 21. Ali Price, 22. Peter Horne, 23. Lee Jones.
Exeter Chiefs: Phil Dollman; Lachlan Turner, Henry Slade, Ian Whitten, Olly Woodburn; Gareth Steenson (c), Nic White; Ben Moon, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Harry Williams, Mitch Lees, Jonny Hill, Dave Ewers, Don Armand, Sam Simmonds
Replacements: Elvis Taione, Moray Low, Tom Francis, Toby Salmon, Matt Kvesic, Will Chudley, Joe Simmonds, Tom Gilbert-Hendrickson
Live on BT Sport, kick-off 1pm
Edinburgh will have a home quarter-final in the Challenge Cup but even then there is no way to guarantee a home semi. So far it is a job very well done and for some players, and thoughts will turn to the Six Nations. While Glasgow need some of their big names back fit and match sharp, for the Edinburgh lads this is the last chance to pick up a soul-destroying injury, if you are a glass half-empty sort! But a good performance in Paris would do players and the club no end of good going into the break.
With that in mind, Stuart McInally, Hamish Watson and Ben Toolis are rested while Murray McCallum and Cornell du Preez still have work to do before they join up with Scotland. John Hardie will make his long awaited return but not for Edinburgh – he’ll be turning out for Hawick this weekend. Maybe Gary Armstrong will roll up there too.
Blair Kinghorn and Mark Bennett will be the first Edinburgh backs in a while with a chance of getting a start for Scotland – although Phil Burleigh picked up a cap from the bench in the autumn. Kinghorn has been rested which gives Darcy Graham a good chance to show what he can do, but Bennett will welcome more game time; he starts.
Glenn Bryce and Sean Kennedy have been attached to the Sevens squad while Cockers continues to hold Dougie Fife and James Johnstone hostage at Myreside. They’re on the bench, if anyone is looking for them.
Edinburgh: 15 Darcy Graham, 14 Damien Hoyland, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Junior Rasolea, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Nathan Fowles; 1 Rory Sutherland, 2 Cameron Fenton, 3 Murray McCallum, 4 Fraser McKenzie (Capt), 5 Lewis Carmichael, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 7 Jamie Ritchie, 8 Cornell Du Preez
Replacements: 16 Neil Cochrane, 17 Kevin Bryce, 18 Matt Shields, 19 Grant Gilchrist, 20 Viliame Mata, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 James Johnstone, 23 Dougie Fife
This one, despite having little at stake, is first on the TV, with coverage via BT Sport. Kick-off 9pm French, 8pm GMT.
UPDATE: other Scotland players/exiles in action this weekend: Not too many exiles in the Challenge Cup (no Denton, Reid, Welsh, Lawson, Harris, McGuigan, or R Gray) but Tim Visser, John Barclay and Mitch Eadie start in the Champions Cup while Sean Maitland is on the bench for Saracens and Greig Laidlaw is on the bench for Clermont.