Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


The 1872 Cup Preview: Westside Edition

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Danny Wilson has confirmed that one of the few signings Glasgow have managed to complete during the coronavirus lockdown, Leone Nakarawa, will not be available to him for the derby double-header.

“His wife was due end of July, so obviously he’s been in Fiji. We gave him a bit of extra time with the family, with his wife having their first baby, and on top of that, the first flight out of Fiji was this week, so we’re in the process of getting him back.”

Given the circumstances which facilitated Nakarawa’s return to Glasgow – for those of you that live under rocks, former employers Racing 92 terminated his contract when Naks took an extended leave of absence after last year’s World Cup – Wilson was asked if he had any concerns about when the off-loading maestro would arrive.

“I am confident (he’ll come back) I’m not foreseeing any issues, but you have to wait and see don’t you? Up to now – for very much the right reasons – we’ve given him that bit of grace, like we would for anybody to spend time with the family in these milestone events. Hopefully, all is well for him coming back, which I’m sure it will be.

“When I recruited Leone it was very much with a “back-row first”, mindset. I thought we needed to add in the back-row, pre-Covid. He gives us flexibility and cover, and adds an on-the-ball presence in the back-row. When they (Gray, Cummings and Nakarawa) are all available, they’ll cause quite a selection headache.”

On top of Nakarawa’s absence, Wilson also revealed that he’ll be without Kyle Steyn and Aki Seiuli are also likely to miss out on pro rugby’s return to Scotland.

“Kyle Steyn’s had a hamstring injury which will delay his availability until we get a full assessment, and Aki broke his thumb a couple of weeks ago. It’s a short term cast – so he’ll be out of that pretty quickly – but he’ll probably miss both games.”

Wilson also teased that he has a surprise in store for the full-back spot, seeing as with Ruairidh Jackson’s retirement and last season’s failure to replace Stuart Hogg, Glasgow don’t have a recognised man to cover the back-field.

“It was never the plan not to have an out and out full-back to put it bluntly, but post-Covid we’ve been hit with restrictions. We’ve looked at in a slightly different way, so you might see a little bit of a surprise at full-back, something we’ve been working on training. I’ll leave it up to you guys to guess.  

“I’ve got a gameplan and tactics to go into the game, which I won’t make public for obvious reasons, but over the years Glasgow and Edinburgh have built pretty potent squads. Cockers has done an outstanding job at Edinburgh. What we’ve seen from them, in the last year especially, is they’ve developed their game to play at speed as well. They’ve got a back three which are a real threat with real potent runners.”

On the same day that the conference with Danny Wilson took place, it was also announced that namesake Ryan and Fraser Brown would split captaincy duties.

“I’ve done it once before, (picked co-captains) normally you’d just pick a single person for the season but this season’s changed quite dramatically. We’re going to lose the internationals for 8 weeks pre-Christmas and then for the Six Nations post-Christmas.

Ryan and Fraser complement each other in terms of their leadership styles. Ryan’s a real character, he’s very popular within the group, he boosts morale, and then you’ve got Fraser who’s on top of driving standards and studies the game inside out.

I’ve been really impressed with how Ryan deals with individual players. He’s got really good relationship skills and emotional intelligence.”

Although, unsurprisingly, playing most of his cards close to his chest, Wilson may have revealed that Brown will be starting on Saturday, as of the two candidates, Brown would be the referee’s point of contact.

“I enjoy being in that role, it’s something that I’ve done in the not too distant past. During the Six Nations, Stuart (McInally) and I would share communication with the referee to save Hoggy having to burst a lung running 50-60m from the back”, said Brown.

Despite being born in Edinburgh, and being on the capital side’s books at the beginning of his career, Brown spoke of his “love” for the Warriors where he was able to rebuild that career which was initially blighted by injury.

“If it wasn’t for Glasgow and the coaches they had there at the time – Gregor (Townsend) and Shade (Munro) – I possibly wouldn’t have a career right now. I’m hugely indebted to what they’ve allowed me to do, and get back involved in professional rugby, so that love and that loyalty to the club; it’s huge.”

Due to the Covid-enforced recruitment pause and the make-up of the current squad, Brown is aware that – like the mystery full-back and Nakarawa – he may be asked to show his versatility and fill in at openside flanker.

“I’ve had a few conversations with Danny about it, more so as covering. It’s not something I’m looking to do on a weekly basis – I’m a hooker first and foremost – but when required to do that role for the team I’m comfortable to do that as well.”

Callum Gibbins, as expected, left at the expiration of his contract, but the shock retirement of Matt Smith – at only 23 years of age – sees the Warriors’ squad show only Chris Fusaro and Tom Gordon as recognised opensides.

“I spoke to Matty a couple of weeks ago. Obviously, a very distressing situation for himself and those around him. We, as a union in Scottish rugby and at Glasgow, the processes we’ve put in place over the last couple of years have been pretty good in identifying people on a day-to-day basis, making sure they have avenues to talk whether within the team or outside of rugby; there’s things we can do to develop that further.  

It’s very difficult in a hidden illness, as a lot of mental health issues are, it almost requires someone speaking out to see that there’s an issue there. From a player point of view, it’s something we could get a little bit more education on. If we can better educate players to be more aware, we can make those conversations a lot more casual and common than currently.”

26 Responses

  1. Wonder if we’ll see Jones at 15; I think Rennie once hinted at him maybe trying that position to reboot his career/confidence so perhaps not completely out of the blue. However, would prefer Seymour there and Jones to concentrate on rediscovering his form at 13.

  2. Tommy tried 15 on a few occasions last season with mixed results, he is much more comfortable on wing and to change late in his career to a position he is uncomfortable would seem a bit of a waste. Rennie did hint at Jones for 15, but agree that I would rather see him back on form at 13…. Big Stafford anyone? A dominant physical presence at 15…. and the centres are a bit congested…

  3. Can you imagine the carnage, both good and bad that Nico would cause from fullback. Additionally you would have to be a brave opposing coach to instruct your team to play a kicking game knowing who will be running the ball back at you.

    1. Love this idea – consistently underused.

      Tbh expecting something hair-brained like playing George Horne or Huw Jones at 15. Something from the GT school of idiocy.

      1. I know! GT what a fool. Only coach to win silverware at domestic level with a Scottish pro-side in 25 years of professional rugby, what a total idiot.

      2. Come on NRS, there is no need to offend idiots. He did inherit the job from a guy who only managed a 51% win ratio and has this far, failed to better it. I hope he does, because he will not be given a better offer , until he does. I am with FF on this , he is no fool.

      3. Bass Rock: I’m no mathematician, but isn’t 54% better than 51% (although it should be noted that Cotter’s was 52.8%)?

      4. TC: At last I agree with you on something, you are indeed ‘no mathematician’ . I am delighted that Townsend has surpassed Cotter, we can finally package him off with an achievement.

      5. So is your position that I’m incorrect about Townsend’s ratio being better than Cotter’s? Do you not consider beating Aus home and away an achievement? Or retaining the Calcutta Cup? I honestly have no clue what your position is beyond cynicism.

      6. TC : I disagree , I do not consider both as outstanding achievements. Gregor Townsend did not ‘ retain the Calcutta Cup’, the players did.

        As we now know his strategy lost them the first half and the outcast Finn led the players revolt and we won the second to draw and retain.Frank Hadden’s side won the Calcutta cup outright twice in his 3 years as Head coach (2006 and 2008),Townsend has not bettered that in his!

        So that leaves us with 2 stunning wins over Australia , yes , they are noteworthy, history will show that as a success. Well actually, 1 was against 14 man Australia and the other was the week before we lost to Fiji.

        I never realised it was this bad. I’m not a cynic , (get a dictionary) , I am just not gullible.

  4. Rather have Seymour at FB than waste one of Scotland’s few potential stars in a position he’d always be behind Hogg and Kinghorn. Otherwise sooner Jones leaves Glasgow the better and he’d walk into most Premiership sides. Choice of co-captains does not fill with confidence either. When do these coaches ever take a step back – the last regime was dipping and noises so far from this one is that set to continue. Jury well and truly out.

    1. Purely out of curiosity I thought I’d challenge the statement of Jones walking into any prem side:

      Exeter: Slade. No
      Bristol: Radradra. No
      Sale: Tuilagi: No
      Wasps: Fekitoa: No
      Bath: Joseph: No
      Northampton: Hutchinson/Dingwall: probably
      Quins: Marchant: doubtful
      Gloucester: Harris: we all know how that one goes
      Irish: Rona: Yes
      Worcester: venter: yes
      Leicester: Taute: yes
      Sarries: Taylor?: probably

      In summary, I think most is an overstatement but I do agree with the parting line that he should be somewhere he’s consistently first choice. He seems to be behind Grigg at Glasgow and since Grigg isn’t exactly Scotland’s first choice, Huw can’t even use the international windows to build form and momentum. I think he’ll be at 15 on Saturday and if that continues he will maybe turn into a utility back/jack of all trades master of none sort of player.

      1. You are correct, dont disgree but what do you think of playing Huw Jones at Fullback? For me it would be an insult to a guy who has already done so much in the midfield , just not at Glasgow. I still think the best thing for HJ is a move to the Premiership.

      2. I have a theory about Huw Jones (in a Scotland jersey) that if you want to see the best of him you have to play have to play him outside Finn Russell, and to a lesser extent and ideally also with Hogg. I’ve been struck watching highlight reels during Lockdown how often Huw Jones best bits involve him being put in by Russell. If he can get on the ball in space more at Fullback and get to run a bit it could work for him. Here’s hoping.

      3. Here’s hoping Sam, here’s hoping. Huw Jones is a Tragedy. Arrived a Currie Cup winner, one of the most coveted achievements in world rugby and we manage to dismantle him in Scotland.

  5. Impressed by his time with Scotland are you? Have you enjoyed more the constant tombola, the run out in Japan, the handling of Finn Russell and Richie Gray, or the partnering of an unfit Taylor with the unimpressive Harris. Or simply the run of losses against teams that have XV players. Never denied he did well at club level, but that has bought him more rope than other coaches. How many years is he immune from criticism in your view?

    1. Sounds a bit like miserable bitterness to me.

      No-one has said Townsend has been perfect but he still has statistically the best win-rate of anyone in the pro-era for Scotland and the 2020 6N was a step in the right direction.

      The Finn Russell situation was unfortunate but surely you can’t think that was *entirely* Townsend’s fault and on your other point, are you saying that no good coach has ever shown faith in a player despite coming back from injury / poor form?

      TL;DR: lighten up, the season’s only just restarting.

      1. The autumn competition sees us in a Group with France, Italy and Japan. That will get his win ratio up. He has never managed a win against Wales or Ireland (even Hadden managed that). I cannot believe he is statistically our best manger , though I don’t doubt it, I just cannot find an up to date database. I think he is out of his depth and until he does something notable , we will not see the end of him.

  6. I predict Chris Harris will be the 15, Townsend’s ego is to big and he will have him travel from Gloucester.

    Absolutely no reason Chris Harris wont start to find some form at fullback after 15/20 caps.

    Hogg is not a good enough defender.

    1. Where did you come from ! Clearly not the optitions, nothing wrong with your sight or opinion. You will not be popular around here talking like that. Totally agree by the way but it wont make any difference.

  7. Just looked at the Offsideline – strong suggestion that it is Huw at the back. Hope he’s done lots of catching practice….

    1. Unfair, though it just gets worse. It just goes to show the old adage is correct. Putting one rare talent in with those of a lesser ability , is more likely to pull him down rather than raise them up.

      Jones made his name in a country that has just won the world cup and has been demoralised in one that exited in the pools.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion