GLASGOW WARRIORS head coach Danny Wilson has confirmed that his international winger/centre Kyle Steyn is likely to miss the remainder of this season though an injury picked up during Friday’s loss to the Stormers in Cape Town, while fellow Scotland cap Sam Johnson, an inside-centre, is touch and go for Saturday’s United Rugby Championship clash against the Bulls in Pretoria.
“Kyle has an Achilles injury but it’s not quite as black and white as that,” explained Wilson. “It’s the ligaments in that area and we are trying to nail down what it means.
“He’s had a scan and he’s got an appointment to see a specialist. It’s definitely a medium-termer but whether we see Kyle again this season, we’ll have to wait and see, but at the moment it’s doubtful.
“It’s unlucky for Kyle who has been in really good form and was really looking forward to playing back in South Africa but only lasted around 10 minutes [against the Stormers]. So, we’re disappointed for him and obviously for us because he’s been quality and was man of the match against Newcastle recently.
“Sammy Johnson picked up an ankle niggle and we’re still trying to see what that means for him for this weekend,” Wilson added. “When you add to that Matt Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Rufus McLean, George Horne – these are big international players who you really want to have going into the business end of the season.”
Ratu Tagive flew out to South Africa on Saturday to add depth to Warriors’ wing options. He was initially left at home to get game time with Stirling County in Super6 having nor played since fracturing his cheekbone during pre-season, but could now feature from the bench for Warriors against the Bulls.
“He’s been able to play a few games now, and when you think we have lost Rufus, Seb [Cancelliere] and Kyle in a very short space of time, we needed to bring Ratu out here and get him up to speed as quickly as possible,” explained Wilson.
“Ratu is a good rugby player and we need to get him up to speed with our stuff as soon as possible because if he doesn’t play here then we are jumping on a flight almost as soon as we get back to go and play Lyon in Europe.”
Their defeat against the Stormers meant that Glasgow dropped to sixth in the table, with two games of the regular season left to play. They are only one point off the top four, which is where they need to finish to secure a home draw in the play-offs, but the prospect of dropping out of the top eight and therefore missing out altogether on the play-offs has also become a more pressing concern.
Warriors’ remaining matches are both away from home, against eighth-placed Bulls this Friday and currently seventh-placed Edinburgh on 21st May. Meanwhile, ninth placed Scarlets are just seven points behind Glasgow with two winnable games left to play in the regular season.
All of which means that while Friday’s match is not quite must-win, if Warriors don’t get anything from the game and Scarlets come out on top in their Welsh derby against the Ospreys then the pressure will really start to build.
“We’ve been in the top four for the majority of the season and now we’ve come to this really tight business end where we can quite easily jump or fall three or four places,” said Wilson.
“The league can change very quickly over a few games and for us, with a series of away games, it’s a big challenge.
“We knew coming to South Africa for these two weeks that we’d have to get points,” added Wilson, who was speaking via conference call from the team’s base at Stellenbosch University. “It’s a very, very tough place – not many teams will come here and take points, especially against the Bulls and the Stormers.
“In the past we came here and played the Southern Kings and the Cheetahs and no disrespect to them because they were good sides, but maybe not with the firepower that these guys have got.
“It’s great for the competition and it’s great to raise our standards. Hopefully, we can make some improvements going into game two.”
The Bulls beat Benetton 46-29 last weekend’s but Wilson reckons that the final score-line did not truly reflect how tight the game had been during the first hour, and added that the way the game went gives him belief that Warriors can bounce back on Friday.
“On 50 minutes the score was 22-19 with the Bulls just getting back into the lead, so Treviso started very, very well and physically they fronted up, which is what you have to do against that opposition at that venue,” he said.
“It does give encouragement, but it was a bit like our game where it was 13-7 on the 50 minutes mark and by the end of the game it was 32-7, so that’s where we’ve got to be better. In South Africa, we need to be able to go toe-to-toe with those guys for more than 50 minutes, we need to go 80 minutes and turn them over.
“I genuinely believe we can beat the Bulls, if we can show some of the form we have shown recently, but maybe not what we showed at the weekend past.”
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