It feels a bit like the season has already ended (it has for Edinburgh) but after a break of a few weeks Glasgow are back in action for the knockout stages.
Watching Glasgow this season has been a tortuous affair, but most of all the abiding emotion is frustration. Let’s not forget they went on a record-breaking win streak at the start of the campaign and some of the performances put together (Cheetahs away springs to mind) were top drawer.
There still remains a slight suspicion that Rennie has had problems adapting his style to Glasgow, as well as perhaps ironically trying to curb their exuberance for the all-court game slightly and get them to tone things down and play directly when required. The stats are suitably schizophrenic: 10/10 home wins this season, yet they’ve lost 3 out of the last 4 played.
Worries about “which Glasgow will turn up” aside, they still remain a team with frighteningly good counter-attacking abilities and an international-quality backline.
The same, of course, could be said of the Scarlets who also have had more success in this season’s crunch games be they in Europe (reaching the Champions Cup semi) or top tier clashes outside of international windows; they were the first team to win an away semi-final on their way to becoming champions last year. They also boast Scotland’s captain John Barclay in their ranks at Number 8, and the former Killer B will have no compunction about extending his farewell to Wales by another week.
The visitors are without Leigh Halfpenny which could have an impact if John Lacey’s whistle is involved too much but both sides are stacked with internationals.
Glasgow’s selection might raise a few eyebrows, especially in midfield with Sam Johnson and Nick Grigg the chosen pairing. However, it would do them a disservice not to point out that they were at the heart of Glasgow’s efforts when they were going well and deserve to be playing. George Horne is another who is on fine form but it means Ali Price joins Alex Dunbar and Huw Jones on the list of regular Scotland starters who haven’t even made the squad. Also absent is Niko Matawalu – could the lack of a real game breaker like him on the bench prove crucial or can Ruaridh Jackson step up to the plate as he has done all season?
The Warriors pack looks strong and pretty settled now with Fagerson/Gibbins/Wilson the current favourite back row. If there is a weak spot, it could be the Harley/Fusaro/Pyrgos group on the bench and no dedicated locks, but they don’t lack for experience certainly.
Scotstoun will be filled with 10,000 fans on Friday with the Warrior Nation roaring them on.
Future Galactico Finn Russell does start his last game at Scotstoun; he’ll be hoping his party continues, and not John Barclay’s.
Glasgow: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Nick Grigg, Sam Johnson, DTH van der Merwe, Finn Russell, George Horne; Jamie Bhatti, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Tim Swinson, Jonny Gray, Matt Fagerson, Callum Gibbins, Ryan Wilson (capt).
Replacements: George Turner, Alex Allan, Siua Halanukonuka, Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro, Henry Pyrgos, Pete Horne, Ruaridh Jackson.
Not available due to injury: Adam Ashe (ankle), Oli Kebble (ankle), Pat MacArthur (shoulder), Leo Sarto (shoulder).
Scarlets: J McNicholl; T Prydie, S Williams, H Parkes, S Evans; R Patchell, G Davies; R Evans, K Owens (capt), S Lee, T Beirne, S Cummins, A Shingler, J Davies, J Barclay.
Replacements: R Elias, W Jones, W Kruger, L Rawlins, W Boyde, J Evans, D Jones, S Hughes.
Friday 18 April, kick off 7.45pm – live on Sky Sports and BBC ALBA.