HUW JONES will return to action after six weeks out with a foot injury when Glasgow Warriors kick-off their European Champions Cup campaign against Northampton Saints at Scotstoun tomorrow [Friday] night, partnering captain Stafford McDowall in the centre, with Sione Tuipulotu not featuring this week.
In all, head coach Franco Smith has made seven changes to his starting XV following last weekend’s away loss to Munster in the URC, with Matt Fagerson coming back in at No 8 to become the 55th player to reach 100 appearances for Warriors. The back-rower joins brother Zander in reaching the century mark, becoming only the third set of brothers – following the Bullochs and Hornes – to reach the milestone in Glasgow colours.
Elsewhere in the pack, Jamie Bhatti and Zander Fagerson come into the starting front-row, packing down either side of Johnny Matthews, while Richie Gray returns after being rested last week to partner Sintu Manjezi (the only uncapped player ion the pack) in the engine-room. Scott Cummings shifts from lock to blindside flanker, with Rory Darge at openside.
Behind the scrum, Tom Jordan returns at stand-off in place of Duncan Weir and Sebastain Cancelliere is back on the wing in place of Kyle Rowe, while recent academy graduates Max Williamson and Ben Afshar are retained on the bench so are set to make their European debuts, where stand-off Ross Thompson and back-rower Ally Miller are also in line for rare hit-outs.
“Northampton arrive at Scotstoun in excellent form having won away to Saracens last weekend; they are a dangerous team with ball in hand and run a tight ship defensively, making them a very tough opponent,” said Smith. “We’re looking forward to running out at home once more, and hearing the Warrior Nation get behind their team.”
Meanwhile former Glasgow Warriors academy hooker Robbie Smith will be looking for a happy homecoming after being named on the bench for Northampton Saints for this match, while erstwhile Scotland targets Fin Smith (grandson of former British and Irish Lions and Scotland cap Tom Elliot) and Fraser Dingwall (Scottish father) start at No 10 and 12 respectively.
Glasgow Warriors (versus Northampton Saints at Scotstoun Stadium in the European Champions Cup on Friday at 8pm): J McKay; S Cancelliere, H Jones, S McDowall©, O Smith; T Jordan, S Kennedy; J Bhatti, J Matthews, Z Fagerson, S Manjezi, R Gray, S Cummings, R Darge, M Fagerson. Substitutes: G Turner, O Kebble, L Sordoni, M Williamson, A Miller, S Vailanu, B Afshar, R Thompson.
Northampton Saints: G Furbank©; O Sleightholme, T Freeman, F Dingwall, G Hendy; F Smith, A Mitchell; A Waller, C Langdon, P Hill, T Lockett, A Moon, C Lawes, A Scott-Young, S Graham. Substitutes: R Smith, T Haffar, T Davison, T Mayanavanua, T Pearson, T James, T Litchfield, T Seabrook.
Unavailable for selection: Fraser Brown (knee), Facundo Cordero (ankle), Jack Dempsey (face), Jamie Dobie (ankle), JP du Preez (knee), Kyle Steyn (ankle)