Alainu’uese completes Toulon move – while Warriors focus turns to Munster

Coaching team relaxed about losing players to Scotland set-up

Brian Alainu’uese
Brian Alainu’uese is off to Toulon ***Image: Fotosport/David Gibson***

GLASGOW WARRIORS have confirmed that second-row Brian Alainu’uese has been released from his contract seven months early so that he can join up with French Top 14 side Toulon. The prospect of this move was first mooted back in mid-September when it was reported that he had been in France for talks, and Toulon announced his signature on their website two weeks ago, but the 24-year-old has continued to train with the Glasgow squad while the terms of his release were negotiated (although he was not named as part of the club’s European squad).

“It’s a decision that’s in the best interest of both the player and the club,” said Warriors head coach Rennie. “Brian’s had a number of injuries over the last couple of years and we’ve not been able to play him as often as we would have liked, but he’s a good man, is very popular among the squad and will be missed.

“When he’s fit and firing he’s an excellent player and we wish him all the best in France.”


Cockerill faces anxious wait before learning of Scotland releases

‘This has got to be the new normal for Warriors,’ says coach Rennie

Champions Cup: Warriors roar back into quarter-final contention in Cardiff

Dean has faith in Edinburgh’s new-found mental toughness


Alainu’uese initially arrived in Glasgow in October 2016 on a short-term deal, earning himself a two-year deal the following April after a string of powerful performances for the Scotstoun outfit. However, he has since been cursed by injury, with knee surgery restricting him to just one PRO14 start and four bench appearances last season, while a back issue has kept him out of action so far in this campaign.

“I’ve really enjoyed my two years in Glasgow. They’re a good bunch of boys and everyone made me feel very welcome.I hope the club goes on to have a lot of success in the future,” said Alainu’uese, who made 22 appearances for the club in total.

“This move gives Brian an opportunity to secure a longer-term contract and will allow us to strengthen our squad in other key areas,” said Warriors’ Managing Director Nathan Bombrys.

With Alainu’uese now gone, Tim Swinson (lower leg) and Kiran McDonald (hand) both still injured, Jonny Gray and Rob Harley involved with the Scotland set-up this Autumn, and Andrew Davidson back at Newcastle Falcons after his stint on loan, Warriors are not overly blessed with options in the second-row at the moment. But forwards coach Jonathan Humphreys is confident that there is enough strength in depth in the squad.

“Tim is going to be back, hopefully, in the next month or so, Kiran is just around the corner [expected back either this week or next], so we were really struggling at the start of the year but now these people are coming back,” he said. “We have enough cover, that is why the [Alainu’uese] deal was done.”

Dakota

Other options include: Scott Cummings, who returned from an ankle injury to make his first appearance in a month off the bench during Sunday’s Champions Cup victory over the Blues; and USA international Greg Peterson.

One rising star who might have got a chance in the Warriors boilerhouse this Autumn is 18-year-old Marshall Sykes, who is on an academy contract and has been tearing up trees for Ayr in the Tennent’s Premiership this season – but he injured his knee against Glasgow Hawks on Saturday and requires surgery which will keep him out for three to six months.

“I am pretty impressed with Marshall. It is an unfortunate time to get injured but as a kid, he has a big future,” said Humphreys.

Focus turns to Munster

Warriors face Munster at Thomond Park in the PRO14 on Saturday and Humphreys says that he and his fellow coaches are pretty relaxed about the number of players likely to be released back to the club from the Scotland set-up for that match.

Fraser Brown, Jonny Gray, co-captain Ryan Wilson, Ali Price, George Horne, Adam Hastings, Pete Horne, Huw Jones, Lee Jones and Tommy Seymour are among the key men expected to be wrapped in cotton wool ahead of Scotland’s Autumn Test series opener in Wales the following Saturday.

The fact that national team head coach Gregor Townsend does not have access to any of his overseas based players for that first game because it falls outside the international release window means that he can’t afford to take any risks – especially in the back three where he has only four home based players in his squad at the moment, and at stand-off where Hastings looks a stick-on to start with centre Pete Horne providing cover.

However, Humphreys hinted that some of the players named above might have been rested anyway, regardless of international considerations.

“They are pretty battered after the last few weeks [in Europe],” he said. “We are hopefully going to get a few released back to us but there are obviously a few who have been through the wars. We have a good squad, so we have some good people to come in.

“It is always a really good working relationship [between the Scotland set-up and Glasgow], so we have a fair idea who will be coming back and who is not. At the start of the season you know this is going to be coming so there is a plan in place for it. You pick teams in advance, depending on injuries and whatever. We are not strangers to this – we just have to get on with it.”

Dakota

Munster are currently fourth in Conference A of the PRO14 having managed just three wins from six outings, but their recent European form – drawing away to Exeter Chiefs and beating Gloucester comfortably at home – demonstrates that they remain a force to be reckoned with.

“Every week, it is important we get the result,” said Humphreys. “It is all about momentum, we want to keep momentum and keep pressure on the teams around us, so it is important to us that we go over there and first of all put in a really physical and positive performance.

“We have a group of boys who are going to play for the first time in a while and are really excited about getting out there.”

  • Meanwhile, the club have also agreed to an early release for their highly-rated strength and conditioning coach, Phil Healey, who is to return home to New Zealand for personal reasons. He will take up a position with Super Rugby side, the Blues, next month.

David Johnston column: A dark cloud continues to overshadow Murrayfield

About David Barnes 4026 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.