Franco Smith believes his policy of rotating his Glasgow Warriors squad will stand them in good stead for the end of the season, starting with the clash against Emirates Lions in Johannesburg tomorrow.  

Smith has made five changes to his team, with Oli Kebble and Angus Fraser into the front row replacing Jamie Bhatti, who drops to the bench, and the injured Grant Stewart. 

Scotland Rugby News: Oli Kebble is back in the Glasgow Warriors teamOli Kebble is back in the Glasgow Warriors team (Image: SNS)

After impressing off the bench against the Bulls, Euan Ferrie and Henco Venter earn starts in the back-row in place of Matt Fagerson and Jack Dempsey. The Scotland duo are both on a Glasgow bench loaded with experience.  

The only change behind the scrum sees Scotland international Kyle Rowe replace Sebastian Cancelliere, who has picked up a knock and is not being risked this week.  

Smith said: “The strategy and the way we’ve changed the squad and the way we’ve prepared the guys in this final period of the season has worked out well.

"We’re excited now to kick on and use the next two weeks to become better at what we do. 

“The way we rotated the boys coming from the World Cup and then after the Six Nations has played a role in maintaining enthusiasm and being physically and mentally ready. 

“We still have to go out and use everything that we’ve sacrificed to deliver an exceptional performance.” 

Matt Fagerson is joined on the bench by his brother Zander, part of an all-international front row trio kept in reserve by the Glasgow boss.  

The bench made a significant impact in earning two losing bonus points against the Bulls in Pretoria, and Smith knows they’ll likely have a big part to play again.  

“They will be very important again but we’ll not be waiting for them to come onto the field,” the Glasgow boss said.  

“I’ve got a lot of confidence and faith in the boys who are starting. I am excited to see Euan Ferrie and Gus Fraser.  

“It’s good to have Oli back after a bit of a break, Murphy is going to kick on after starting well last week. 

“I’m really excited about the enthusiasm and energy we have brought in. The experience is there for us to keep growing and getting better. Hopefully all 23 can contribute in what is going to be a high-intensity game.” 

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The South African side start the weekend in 10th place but are just four points off the play-off places. They need to win to keep their season alive beyond next weekend.  

Smith knows Glasgow must be wary of their free-flowing style.  

He added: “We’ve treated every team on merit this year and it will be the same here. It will be important that we don’t turn the ball over too often. They pounce on those opportunities very well, like we saw Harlequins and Stormers do against us. 

“It’s going to be important for us to be accurate in our execution, which is something we’re going to need going forward in this competition anyway. 

“Our focus is to not allow them too much joy off turnovers but at the same time, that shines a light on what we need to do. 

“They are a tough opponent and this is just another ingredient in them being an extraordinary challenge for us.” 

As well as dealing with the opposition, Smith said his side will need to cope with some “strange” weather conditions in Johannesburg.  

“We had average day temperatures of 26 degrees and higher. When I left the captain’s run it was 29 degrees.  

“It’s strange weather. Evern being South African, I find it strange.” 

He hopes it will be cooler by the time the sides take to the field tomorrow.  

"At four o’clock [local kick-off time] the field should be completely covered by shadow and we will be closer to normal temperatures, around 21-22 degrees which is good weather at this time of year anywhere in the world.” 

The teams

Emirates Lions: Quan Horn, Rabz Maxwane, Erich Cronje, Marius Louw (c), Edwill van der Merwe, Gianni Lombard, Morne van den Berg; Morgan Naude, PJ Botha, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Willem Alberts, Ruan Delport, JC Pretorius,  Emmanuel Tshituka, Francke Horn

Replacements: Jaco Visagie, JP Smith, Ruan Dreyer, Reinhard Nothnagel, Ruan Venter, Hanru Sirgel, Sanele Nohmaba, Jordan Hendrikse

Glasgow Warriors: Josh McKay, Kyle Steyn (c), Stafford McDowall, Sione Tuipulotu, Kyle Rowe, Tom Jordan, George Horne; Oli Kebble, Angus Fraser, Murphy Walker, Gregor Brown, Scott Cummings, Euan Ferrie, Rory Darge, Henco Venter

Replacements: Johnny Matthews, Jamie Bhatti, Zander Fagerson, Max Williamson, Matt Fagerson, Jack Dempsey, Jamie Dobie, Duncan Weir