With the Pro14 looking like this season has reached a premature conclusion we’ll look towards the players who have signed or renewed their contracts this season who look set to take part in Danny Wilson’s maiden season for Glasgow. After being the Scottish forwards coach he has since moved to head coach for Glasgow, though not without some scrutiny. He has done fantastic work with Cardiff Blues so we can remain hopeful that this trend will continue rather than that of his tenure as forwards coach. With the signings this season we can already see his squad beginning to take shape so let’s dive in.
Already making a name for himself at Scotstun, the Fijian hooker was signed just as the preseason fixtures for this season were starting. His prowess recognised not only in the club game but also on the international stage by his country in the Rugby World Cup 2019. He’s already scored on both his appearances at Scotstun, already looking like he will be a useful addition to Danny Wilson’s front row options when he may possible be missing up to three hookers on international duty for Scotland. He has a quick turn of pace, managing to run good supporting lines for both Steyn and big Leone to score his two tries. He will be staying with Glasgow until 2021 and on his performances so far, fans will be keen to see him stay.
Originally thought to have switched to fullback this season to replace Stuart Hogg, Stafford McDowall is one of the younger players to have signed at Scotstun for the future. The 21 year old committed to the club in August and will be staying till 2022. Despite people thinking he would make a positional switch McDowall has stuck to his inside centre position, cutting a powerful figure. Known for his trademark tackles and hard yard carries, particularly last season when he scored an excellent driving try against the Cheetahs. Almost in the mold of a young Alex Dunbar, McDowall should have a long career ahead of him with an already excellent skillset which will surely improve.
Here to stay till summer of 2022! Kebble has made no bones about his ambition to get capped on the international stage. Already a firm favourite the South African born prop has proved his versatility packing down on both sides of the scrum and even throwing a lineout in one of the 1872 cup matches against Edinburgh. A hard carrying dynamic prop, Kebble is the injection of brute power that Glasgow can use to great effect. A terrific carrier of the ball he can often be seen bursting through the defensive line and scoring his own tries. On his current performances the blue shirt may beckon.
The former Highlander committed to the Scottish club back in September this year. He had to wait a while for his club debut, but the bundle of muscle loosehead prop was well worth the wait. Let us not forget that it was the combined front row of Sieuli and Sila Halanukonuka which drove back a veteran British and Irish Lions pack in the scrum. Though the two are yet to play in the same front row together it remains an exciting prospect to see the two former Highlanders link up. Sieuli has asserted himself as Glasgow’s starting loosehead prop (with Kebble switching now to tighthead for injuries). It will be good to see these two push each other on for that starting jersey when all our tightheads are fit. Sieuli has proven in games such as La Rochelle away from home, that he’s not afraid to carry into the heart of the defence. Without perhaps the accelaration that Kebble has Seuili again provides that direct option for Glasgow, ready to make those hard yards as well as a an excellent set of hands he seems an excellent addition to the Warriors front row arsenal. Not only this but he’ll be here to stay during the international windows and he’ll be here till 2021.
In an age post Josh Strauss with Glasgow, the Warriors were in need of a ball carrying number 8. Step up to the plate Matt Fagerson. I will be the first to hold my hands up that when he played in Tooney’s farewell game against Edinburgh I didn’t understand the hype. This however is a tidy bit of business for Glasgow. Despite not going to the Rugby World Cup, Fagerson seemed to use this to fuel his rampaging runs. He has came up against the likes of CJ Stander and Billy Vunipola , finding himself more than up to the task of the battle-hardened back rowers. Simply look at his highlight reel against the Cheetahs in the opening game this season, fending off two or three massive South-Africans on one particular charge. One of the club’s brightest homegrown prospects Fagerson is staying with the warriors till at least the Summer of 2022. At only 22 years of age he has a long career ahead of him, and it is baffling that he doesn’t have more caps to his name. I won’t complain though because I’m happy to have him in a Warrior’s shirt too.
Versatility will always keep you in a team but being brilliant in both positions is a difficult thing to manage. Comfortable at both centre and wing, the former Scotland 7’s player was drafted into the Warrior’s squad last season when cover in certain areas looked bare due to injuries. Steyn certainly grapsed the opportunity making himself well known among the warriors fans with trademark 7’s pace and a powerful upper body strength with the carry to fend off players. Simply look at his blistering try against La Rochelle, that all but won Glasgow the game in France. Personally I would be happier to see him on the wing and hunting for work off of his wing, acting like an extra centre where necessary. His extension sees him with the warriors until Summer of 2022, even since this extension in December he has been capped by Scotland against France. He showed excellent skills in the air and terrific work rate to get back for some superb cover tackles. Always one to watch you only need to look back to his solo effort against the best defence in the Pro14, Leinster, to see what he’s capable of.
A fantastic servant to the club and an international veteran, Seymour signed to stay with the club till Summer 2021 and may well finish his career with the Warriors. Still capable of scintillating line-breaks and with a keen eye for a gap, Seymour shows us time and time again that he still has that Glasgow magic we love to see. Look at the line he picked against Leinster to cut through the defence for his try, not to mention his newfound option at fullback over the last two seasons. Age seems to have brought a newfound physicality to his role, simply look at his contribution to Nick Grigg’s try against Exeter Chiefs. He will no doubt bring experience to what is becoming an increasingly new back line, always ready when called upon.
At six foot ten inches tall this absolute human skyscraper is what appears to be Glasgow’s Marquee signing this season. Vastly experienced at both club and international level, Gray has played across the Pro14, Gallagher Premiership (Sale) and the Top 14 (Toulouse). It will be excellent to see him paired up alongisde younger players like Scott Cummings, Kiran MacDonald or Andrew Davidson in the engine room. Gray’s physicality still remains despite the ravages of time and expect him to be used to great effect in the lineout. Also enjoy the nostalgia of the brilliant try he scored against Ireland.
From his debut game against the Scarlets all those years ago, Ali Price has matured into an excellent scrum half. Not without his own difficulties with form in the past he has manage to get past them all. His man of the match performance against Sale where he announced the extension was inspired. His box kicking has improved tremendously and gone is the nerves that made him throw intercepts. The experience and his improved tactical nouse have been noticed at international as well where he now sits as first choice scrum half. His continuing battle with George Horne seems to push him on and promises to only get better with the emergence of young Jamie Dobie.
Glasgow’s all time record appearance holder is here to stay till the Summer of 2022. Harley is a work-horse around the park, often found doing a lot of the unseen work that Glasgow need to play their high tempo game. His massive 230 caps, of which he started 196 games show just what a vital player he has been to the warriors, now with the versatility of playing regularly in the second row as well, he’s an integral part of the team’s leadership group.
Another bolster to the front row options, the Argentinian tighthead prop was signed from Exeter Chiefs just in February on a two year deal. Considering Glasgow’s woes at tighthead with injuries it is not difficult to see why the signing was made. Pieretto though is a prop of some calibre. Part of the Super Rugby finalist 2019 Jaguares team, not to mention a physically dominating Chief’s pack. An abrasive prop and excellent scrummager it will be interesting to see if he can attempt to dislodge Zander Fagerson from the starting jersey and keep out “The Nuke” as well.
Another tidy piece of business for the Warriors, Grigg renewed his contract with Glasgow for two years, after much speculation that he was bound elsewhere. Winning the hearts of fans, Grigg is often caught running hard lines against the defence with surprising strength for a man of his size. The little bundle of muscle not only demonstrates his exuberance in attack but also defence where he can be seen shooting up out of the defensive line. Though sometimes this yields mixed results. Nonetheless an excellent signing to bolster some excellent midfield options, the combinations available are frightening.
His debut came back in 2017 but his seasons have been plagued by injuries. It’s really only this season we have started to see him consistently get game time, be it in an increasingly competitive position in the team. A big physical winger, he brings a physicality that Glasgow don’t often see in their back line. Quick pace and an eye for the line has seen him called up to the Scotland squad for the Six Nations this year. Signed on for an additional two years I hope to see more of what he has to offer the Warriors.
In part two of this we will look at the names that have not yet had their contracts renewed by Glasgow and will speculate about Danny Wilson’s plans for the make-up of both the squad and its style of play.
Chip & Chase