Glasgow Warriors have opted for a blend of youth and experience in the opening game of their Rainbow cup campaign. One of the most notable changes is the return of Scotland international Kyle Steyn to the number 11 jersey. Steyn had become one of the first names on the team sheet prior to his injury, the last time he played being against Leinster in February of 2020 in which he scored a terrific solo try.
With injuries starting to lessen and the international window completed Danny Wilson will welcome the time he has had to train with his full squad over the past week while the European Champions cup knockout stages continued.
It’s a powerful and dynamic looking front row with Oli Kebble, George Turner and Zander Fagerson at loosehead, hooker and tighthead respectively. They will look to really get the edge over Benneton in the scrum as well as bring their dynamic carrying power to bear.
Like a giant blonde skyscraper the warrior nation will hope to see Richie Gray causing havoc with the Italian lineout this weekend alongside his colleague big bad Bob Harley. A lot of the pre-season talk from these two players came about employing the use of “dark arts”. Hopefully there will be no unforgivable curses but if Harley can continue to influence mauls and lineouts as he has all season it could cause Benneton real issues for a set piece platform.
Meanwhile it’s all change in the back row. I’ve been impressed with Lokotui when he’s been given the chance to play and he earns his start at blindside flanker. He breakdown work should prove vital in the absence of Tom Gordon and we hope to see him get those powerful legs pumping. Fraser Brown makes the switch from Hooker to openside flanker, his last stint in the number 7 jersey at international level so he is well capable of making the switch. He has been in try-scoring form of late having returned from a serious neck injury scoring against the italians in the past. Captain Ryan Wilson completes the trio in his preferred number 8 jersey. Injury keeping Matt Fagerson out of the team.
George “Hornito” Horne will continue his stint as Glasgow starting number 9 after some impressive performances from his own injury troubles. The scrum halves electric pace and brilliant supporting lines saw him bag his own try in the Pro14 fixture of this game in Scotstun some weeks ago. Alongside him at fly-half the almost unflappable Ross Thompson starts, the young 10 has completely grown into the jersey, in this writers opinion even dislodging Adam Hastings from the team. His metronomic goal kicking will prove vital if the italians build up a head of steam where he can keep the scoreboard ticking over nicely.
At centre Sam Johnson and Nick Grigg pair up in an international mid field. Both centre’s have an eye for a gap and have burned the italians in this previous fixture with their pace and aggressive carries to the gain line.
It’s an all new back 3 for Glasgow then with Cole Forbes moving from wing to fullback to make way for Kyle Steyn. The electric looking new-zealand under 20 has quickly become a fan favourite with his footballing skills and sheer pace. He is joined by Kyle Steyn and Rufus McLean. McLean having made a name for himself with what was Glasgow’s try of the season and the warrior nation will welcome the sight of Kyle Steyn back into the squad. One thing is for sure, this back 3 have gas!
One the bench Grant Stewart has proven an able replacement hooker on the bench and will look to inject pace into the game’s closing stages. Keep your eye on Glasgow academy player Tom Lambert who will be in the number 17 jersey, name-checked by Danny Wilson as a player well worth watching for the future. Darcy Rae comes in as the replacement tighthead with an injury to Enrique Pieretto.
All star Fijian Leone Nakarawa provides versatility in the 19 jersey, hopefully we’ll get to see him build into the game, his second stint with Glasgow being marred by an injury and a gradual return to fitness.
Under 20’s cap Rory Darge completes the forwards having switched from Edinburgh in the past few weeks. An exciting young talent who will be looking to make a name for himself in a firmly established Warrior’s pack.
Veteran Ali Price sits on bench in this game. An excellent option and he has truly improved his tactical kicking this season in my opinion, particularily in a Scotland jersey though he won’t be shy of a gap if presented one. He’s joined by former Irish international Ian Keately, whose given the Warriors a cool head with which to close out some tight games in the past.
Ollie Smith completes the bench providing versatility in the back 3. If he comes on it will likely be to fullback, with Steyn switching to centre and Forbes moving to the wing. The Scotland U20 fullback has struggled for some consistency in his game, his best performance yet being this previous fixture in Scotland. Hopefully he will continue to grow into the jersey, those of us that watched the U20’s know the brilliant footwork he can produce.
Glasgow Warriors Squad:
1. Oli Kebble
2. George Turner
3. Zander Fagerson
4. Richie Gray
5. Rob Harley
6 Fotu Lokotui
7. Fraser Brown
8. Ryan Wilson
9. George Horne
10. Ross Thompson
11. Kyle Steyn
12. Sam Johnson
13. Nick Grigg
14. Rufus McLean
15. Cole Forbes
16. Grant Stewart
17. Tom Lambert
18. Darcy Rae
19. Leone Nakarawa
20. Rory Darge
21. Ali Price
22. Ian Keately
23. Oli Smith