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New Head Coach, new look team: Glasgow vs Ayrshire Bulls

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The highly awaited (in the Highlands for sure) Inverness pre-season challenge was almost cancelled after Worcester Warriors withdrew late this week due to the uncertainty over ongoing financial difficulties. Super6 champions Ayrshire Bulls stepped in late on Wednesday night so the game could go ahead in some form. Which would be valuable ticket revenue retained for someone.

New Head Coach Franco Smith named his 30-man squad yesterday.

After being announced as the new club captain, it is only fitting that Kyle Steyn is part of the starting XV.

It’s a new look front row as Nathan McBeth and Simon Berghan join last season’s top try scorer Johnny Matthews at the front of the pack. 

Lewis Bean will be teaming up with the Warriors’ most experienced player, Richie Gray in the engine room.

The back row sees two of the club’s new signings, Sintu Manjezi and Sione Vailanu gain their first starts, joining Warriors vet Thomas Gordon.

It’s an all-international half-back pairing as Scottish scrum-half George Horne teams up with Argentinian fly-half Domingo Miotti. Two former Millbrae men make up the centre duo as Stafford McDowall and Tom Jordan take on their old club. Walter Fifita joins skipper Steyn on the wings with Cole Forbes completing the starting team at fullback.

Smith has named a very mixed bench.

With a combined cap total which is triple the rest of the bench, former co-captains Ryan Wilson and Fraser Brown are maybe not who the Warrior Nation expected to see named as replacements. But the change in opponent may have adjusted Smith’s planning.

Looking to make their debuts for the club are 4 of the 2022/23 academy player group: Euan Ferrie, Ben Ashfar, Ross McKnight, and Andy Stirrat. The quartet have previously played together in the Scotland U20 squad.

After signing short term deals with the club, Joel Hodgson and Lucio Sordoni are both named as replacements. Having spent the off-season with Warriors, Cam Jones and Will Hunt will don the Warriors colours rather than their Bulls’ strip. 

Also looking to make their first appearances for the team are second row duo Alex Samuel and JP du Preez. With pre-season a chance to look at more faces, the larger than usual bench is completed by Murphy Walker, Jack Dempsey and Sebastian Cancelliere, each player looking to continue the momentum of their impressive first seasons as Warriors.

It is a very unexpected squad but preseason is the time to name a team like this. I’m excited to see how the young guns gel with the more experienced members of the team. Franco seems to have focused a lot on the fitness of the team which is something that was lacking last season. 

Fingers crossed it has paid off and we can give Ayr a good show. Come on Warriors!

A version of this article appeared previously on Eve’s blog here.

9 Responses

  1. Thanks for this Eve, good to see stuff on the pro game coming up and hopefully looking to see more articles from you 👍

    1. Seems to be a bit of buzz around Bulls players Richie Simpson (10) and Jamie Sheddon (14 but usually an outside centre). It’ll be interesting to see how they go and a great opportunity to make an impression on Franco Smith. FH is one of Glasgow’s weakest positions and whilst there are fewer opportunities at centre, Sheddon has a huge physical presence as well as pace and is flexible enough to play on the wing.

      Away from the game, really hope SRU is targeting Finn Smith to bring him up north for either pro-side. Reportedly a move to Northampton is in the offing but they won’t be able to offer a decent deal immediately as they’ll be restricted by the salary cap this year. He’s already on Toonie’s radar and could solve Scotland’s post-Russell 10 problem for a decade. Now is the time to make a serious offer.

  2. The super 6 is well above my expectations. Many of the games in the Sprint Series were settled in the closing minutes. All is not dead in Scottish Rugby. I look forward to returning to Scottish Rugby this season.

      1. As a London Scottish fan I couldn’t believe that result after last season we were getting humped by everyone

  3. Well there is that daftness which sets us apart, we are not known to make it easy, hopefully a bump in the road. Makes your blood boil, but cleans out your arteries. Better to screw it up in the warmups, I missed it , what needs attention, Teamwork, Fitness, Resilience , Complacency ?

  4. apologies to any royalist, i’m not aiming to offend, the queen was a lovely old lady and i don’t mean her any ill will. But what possible value is there in suspending rugby games in Scotland when a minutes silence/applause who be entirely appropriate/adequate. All this does is ruin peoples day and deny the pro and womans teams vital preparatory game time.

    1. The last time we lost a Queen, everyone painted their doors and railings black and went into mourning for 6 years.

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