STUART HOGG is not going to play for Glasgow Warriors this coming Saturday against Toyota Cheetahs in the Guinness PRO14, but assistant coach Kenny Murray says the talismanic full-back is targeting the team’s European Champions Cup quarter-final clash against Saracens seven days later for his comeback from the shoulder injury he sustained whilst playing for Scotland against Ireland in the Six Nations at the start of February.
“He is back in training, he has not done a lot of contact so he will build that up this week going into next week,” explained Murray. “He is not likely to be available for this week against the Cheetahs, but we are definitely not ruling him out of the Saracens game. We’ll just see how he progresses towards the end of next week.
“He is his usual buzzing self,” Murray added. “He’s out there ready to go. In terms of his movement he is fine, we just need to make sure that contact-wise he is ready to go. But he’s full of confidence that he is ready to go in the next 10 days or so. You know what he is like, he wants to play rugby, but, ultimately, we don’t want to take risks with him or anybody else.
“He is an important player for us, but Ruaridh Jackson has done really well for us at full-back [while Hogg has been unavailable] – we have collected 19 out of 20 points during the Six Nations window and Jacko has played every minute in those four games – so he is a real quality stand-in. But Hoggy being the world class player he is you would want to get him back on that paddock as soon as possible.”
Murray also provided an injury update on a number of other front-line players.
“Callum Gibbins is training fully [after recovering from an ankle injury sustained in January], he is doing full contact and full running so is in contention for this weekend,” he said. “Ryan Wilson is not likely to be available in the next week or so [due to knee ligament damage] but is definitely looking to get back before the end of the season.”
“Huw Jones is probably going to be another few weeks [having also suffered knee ligament damage]. He is not back running yet, so I would say it is likely to be more around Ulster or Leinster time [at the start of April] that he will be available
“George Horne had a shoulder knock which is why he was not in training as much with Scotland, and we are going to see how it is. We don’t think it is anything major, just a wee tweak that we can manage a bit. So, he is doubtful this week, but I would hope he will be in contention for Saracens.”
Meanwhile, a number of Scotland squad members are set to make an immediate return to club action on Saturday. “Some are getting a week off, the guys who had a lot of game time during the Six Nations, such as Sam Johnson, Nick Grigg and so on,” said Murray. “But all the guys out there [training on Tuesday] – Pete Horne, Rob Harley, Adam Hastings – are in contention for this week.”
Recruitment is ongoing
Glasgow have recruited four young Scottish qualified prospects so far for next season in centre Stafford McDowall and hooker Grant Stewart, who are both graduating from the SRU academy set-up, second-row Andrew Davidson from Newcastle Falcons, and centre/wing Kyle Steyn from the Scotland 7s squad. Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that two established internationalists in Hogg and Jamie Bhatti are leaving the club for Exeter Chiefs and Edinburgh respectively.
It also seems certain that Scotland centre Alex Dunbar‘s association with the club has come to an end after his move to Newcastle Falcons last month on loan until his contract runs out at the end of the season, where he hopes to recover the form which made him such an important player for both club and country before an injury-ravaged couple of seasons derailed his career.
Murray reassured supporters that they should not be concerned by the lack of activity in the transfer market so far as an indicator that the squad will be left threadbare next season.
“We are speaking every day about recruitment for next year, looking at players and identifying positions we are looking to fill,” he said. “There is a lot of discussion going on with agents throughout the world. It is not that we are not looking at certain positions, we have just not told you guys [the press] yet.
“It is a World Cup year, so you have to manage your squad differently to other years, you are potentially going to lose a high number of players and need to make sure we have a squad that can compete in the competitions in that window. So, the challenge is torecruit players who are not going to go [to the World Cup] and are going to be available for you for big parts of the season. It would not make sense for us to bring in too many guys who are at the World Cup or we will be spending the first three months of the season not being able to field a team.”
A number of current players have re-committed to the club for next season, including international props Alex Allan and D’Arcy Rae earlier this week, as well as fellow Scotland caps Adam Ashe, Huw Jones, Zander Fagerson, Adam Hastings, George Horne, Sam Johnson and Tommy Seymour; plus uncapped duo Oli Kebble and Scott Cummings.