Sale Sharks v Glasgow Warriors
Date: Sat 18 January 2020
Venue: AJ Bell Stadium
Byron McGuigan is given the week off after his call up to the Scotland squad, but for the struggling Warriors there is no such luck.
Welcome news for Glasgow fans with one former second-row star packing down at 6 for this fixture, and another in the form of Richie Gray signing a 2 year deal to replace brother Jonny next season.
For now though Jonny has the weekend’s task of trying to get a bonus point win away from home to complete, and Dave Rennie has sent a strong side down to Manchester (not to mention Cammy, John and Iain). Will they get on the right side of the French referee this time? (Probably not).
Glenn Bryce follows up a handy performance against Exeter with another start – could he become the answer to Glasgow’s fullback conundrum? Tommy Seymour certainly looked a lot more at home on the wing although he is absent this weekend. It’s another strong backline, and another start for Huw Jones who fumbled his way out of a hat-trick against the Chiefs but was otherwise very good.
All eyes of the Warrior Nation will naturally be on the blindside berth, where Leone Nakarawa finally makes his return in Warriors colours. Will the Curry brothers have played against anybody quite like him before?
The Warriors pack also offers another chance to see Tom Gordon in action while Glasgow’s own set of brothers await with Niko Matawalu on the bench to unleash chaos in the later stages.
Sale Sharks: 15. Joe Carpenter, 14. Denny Solomona, 13. Luke James, 12. James Williams, 11. Marland Yarde, 10. Thomas Curtis, 9. Will Cliff; 1. Ross Harrison, 2. Curtis Langdon, 3. Willgriff John, 4. Matthew Postlewhaite, 5. James Phillips, 6. Tom Curry, 7. Ben Curry, 8. Jono Ross (c).
Replacements: 16. Rob Webber, 17. Ben Carlile, 18. Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19. Sam Dugdale, 20. Cameron Neild, 21. Fergus Warr, 22. Cameron Redpath, 23. Thomas Roebuck.
Glasgow Warriors: 15. Glenn Bryce, 14. Kyle Steyn, 13. Huw Jones, 12. Samuel Johnson, 11. DTH van der Merwe, 10. Adam Hastings, 9. Ali Price; 1. Aki Seiuli, 2. Fraser Brown, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Scott Cummings, 5. Jonny Gray, 6. Leone Nakarawa, 7. Tom Gordon, 8. Ryan Wilson (capt).
Replacements: 16. George Turner, 17. Oli Kebble, 18. Adam Nicol, 19. Robert Harley, 20. Chris Fusaro, 21. George Horne, 22. Peter Horne, 23. Niko Matawalu.
Not available due to injury: Andrew Davidson (foot), Matt Fagerson (rib), Bruce Flockhart (back), Siua Halanukonuka (calf), Sean Kennedy (shoulder), Johnny Matthews (ankle), Kiran McDonald (hip), Robbie Nairn (knee), D’arcy Rae (hand), Brandon Thomson (calf), Tommy Seymour (head), George Thornton (ankle) and Ratu Tagive (shoulder)
Referee: Pascal Gauzère (France)
Edinburgh Rugby v Agen
Date: Sat 18 January 2020
Venue: BT Murrayfield Stadium
Richard Cockerill takes advantage of his squad depth while he can, in some cases resting figures who will be important in the coming weeks (Bill Mata, James Johnstone) and in others flogging Darcy Graham, WP Nel, Toolis, Gilchrist, Crosbie, Watson and Haining while he still has them.
That means that as usual, it’s a monster pack with a re-jigged backline, George Taylor coming back into the midfield and Nic Groom captaining from scrum-half. With Matt Scott back in the Scotland fold, Chris Dean makes a welcome return from injury on the bench but can he reclaim his shirt from the impressive Taylor?
Will this squad be enough to pick up the win, and hopefully a bonus point? At home, it should be just about enough.
Edinburgh Rugby: 15. Damien Hoyland, 14. Darcy Graham, 13. Mark Bennett, 12. George Taylor, 11. Duhan Van Der Merwe, 10. Jaco van der Walt, 9. Nic Groom (capt); 1. Pierre Schoeman, 2. David Cherry, 3. WP Nel, 4. Ben Toolis, 5. Grant Gilchrist, 6. Luke Crosbie, 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Nick Haining.
Replacements: 16. Mike Willemse, 17. Rory Sutherland, 18. Pietro Ceccarelli, 19. Fraser McKenzie, 20. John Barclay, 21. Henry Pyrgos, 22. Simon Hickey, 23. Chris Dean.
Agen: 15. Leo Berdeu, 14. JJ Taulagi, 13. Johann Sadie, 12. Nathan Decron, 11. Benito Masilevu, 10. Raphaël Lagarde, 9. Paul Abadie, 1. Giorgi Tetrashvili, 2. Clément Martinez, 3. Walter Desmaison, 4. Pierce Phillips, 5. Adrian Motoc, 6. Romain Briatte (capt), 7. Jessy Jegerlhener, 8. Dylan Hayes.
Replacements: 16. Paula Ngauamo, 17. Fernandez Correa, 18. Corentin Chabeaudie, 19. Andrés Zafra Tarazona, 20. Gauthier Maravat, 21. Hugo Verdu, 22. Sam Vaka, 23. Julien Jane.
Unavailable: Stuart McInally, Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (England)
Duncan Weir and recent Scotland call-up Cornell du Preez start for Worcester against Castres on Friday night. Allan Dell is on the bench for London Irish and Luke Hamilton starts at 6 for Bristol. Alex Dunbar is back for Brive while Rory Hughes (wing) and Jake Kerr (bench) will be in action for Leicester.
Duncan Taylor and Sean Maitland both start for the beleaguered Saracens as they welcome Finn Russell‘s Racing92. Stuart Hogg starts for Exeter although no sign of Sam Skinner yet. No Chris Harris for Gloucester this weekend, although Alex Craig starts. Rory Hutchinson, Greig Laidlaw and Darryl Marfo are all replacements for their clubs.
Ben Blain referees the Worcester game while Mike Adamson takes charge of Toulouse v Gloucester.