They gave me my laptop back and let me start writing again. And just like last time, they let me write about the famous Glasgow Warriors!

It’s so good to be back doing what I love about the team I love. A hell of a lot has changed since I last wrote about the team. Countless players have come and gone, we’ve gone Rennie to Wilson to Smith and we’ve been to a European final. And this season, a massive step forward with the addition of a women’s side.

So it seems only appropriate that for my first piece of this season, I’d like to just recap how we’ve got to here.

World Cup seasons are such a bizarre phenomena. They’re the kind of seasons where it’s easy to see your side, especially one as stacked full of internationals as Glasgow are, slip up, get off to a poor start or just generally look like a shadow of their usual self. But this Warriors side under Franco Smith is a very different beast. From the wreckage of the ‘Danny Wilson experiment’, Glasgow have gone back to what made them one of the most exciting sides in the league, if not Europe.

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Franco Smith is without a shadow of a doubt the architect of all that is good at Scotstoun. A softly spoken man from the North of the rainbow nation, he has impressed the Warrior Nation with his tactical nous, his ability to get the best out of players and his kind-hearted nature. Smith, despite demands on his time prior to and after games, has always made time for fans, my own wee boy being one of them, and does so with a smile on his face.

But what impresses me most is not any of these factors. It’s the players and the way they react to their coach. You can see that they are willing to run through walls (as well as defenders) for their coach. They speak highly of him in interviews. Great coaches get the best out of their players. There can be no doubt that he’s gotten the best from them.

Take a guy like Johnny Matthews. From squad player to fans favourite under Smith. His appearances are greeted with cheers and applause. The kind of cheers usually reserved for a star winger, fly half or centre. His game has gone from strength to strength over the last 2 years and he’s gone to, and scored, at a World Cup. He’s just one example of a player who looks transformed under Smith and his teachings and methods.

Or Ally Miller is another prime example. Miller has had to bide his time but in the last few weeks has shone and taken his opportunity with both hands. An absolute gentleman off the field, he’s used his Sevens skills to great effect and scored a beauty of a try against Bayonne. While he may not be able to command a regular spot in the side, he’s shown tremendous character and Franco knows that if he needs to call upon him, he’ll more than make up the numbers. In 9 league games they’ve lost only 3 times, all of which on the road. While all defeats are disappointing, Glasgow have at least taken points from those games and as we know, these bonus points can be absolutely crucial come the end of the regular season. But Glasgow have been at their swashbuckling best for most of the season. They were tremendous to watch against Leinster, pulled one out of the fire against Ospreys, put Benetton to the sword and ruined Steven Kitshoff’s Ulster debut.

And all of this has been done with a squad that is incredibly exciting to watch. They’re a ‘bums off seats’ kind of squad. When Danny Wilson was in charge, they looked devoid of ideas. Devoid of confidence, devoid of that Glaswegian spirit.

Smith has reinstalled that believe that Glasgow can score from anywhere at any time. Take Friday night against Toulon as a perfect example. Sione Tuipulotu and Huw Jones were on fire in the centre, Josh McKay has made full back his own and with Kyle Steyn back from injury and Kyle Rowe on the other side, Glasgow have one of the most exciting back divisions in Europe. Then you have forward pack and everything they bring to the party. Zander Fagerson has looked superb this season and brother Matt is just a tackle machine. Jack Dempsey was on another level on his return and recently Richie Gray has rolled back the years and been excellent in both the line out and the loose.

They are ferocious in defence and back themselves in every contest and breakdown. With Rory Darge still to return and Sione Vailanu still to return, Smith has a task on his hands to select his first choice back row. But we’re not complaining!

In addition to the league, Glasgow are in the knockout stages of the Champions Cup and will be looking at a tasty fixture against the high flying Harlequins to continue their European journey. A lot will depend on the Six Nations and players making it through that unscathed and the same will be said of the URC season.

Glasgow have not had their injuries to seek this season with Steyn, Dempsey and Fagerson in recent weeks and months having spells on the sidelines as well as those who have seen no game time at all due to longer term problems. But Glasgow have a squad that has real strength in depth in many places and the it’s great to see. If we can thank Wilson for one thing, it’s giving opportunities to so many of the kids who are now reaping the rewards of those minutes when times were hard and options limited.

With the Six Nations now upon us, fixtures take a back seat for a few weeks and players not selected for the national team have a chance to rest, recuperate and gain some energy back. The injury list is such that I doubt we will see many players returning to fitness and putting their hands up for selection but that’s the world of professional sport. Rarely will you have all your options to choose from.

As I mentioned earlier, this has been a historic season already with the addition of the first ever Glasgow Warriors women’s team. The growth of women’s rugby has been heartening to see over the last few years and it’s great that we finally have our own side. Results may not have gone our way in the first few games but I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before they get the W and hopefully we can see more girls come through the ranks and join the Konkel’s, Bonar’s and Lloyd’s and grow the game even further in this country.

Things are looking up. Smith has Glasgow in a great place. Third in the league, just 3 points behind Leinster and a point behind Benetton, a European Champions Cup last 16 appearance and an exciting side at disposal. He’s taken a team that looked lost and turned them back into the snarling, fighting, cavalier side that the Scotstoun faithful enjoy watching. Now with the ladies team joining the ranks, Glasgow can now begin to build a successful squads and hopefully it will lead to success for both. Let’s just hope we can hold onto the players, and the coach, for as long as possible.