Danny Wilson has insisted that the positive aspects of Ryan Wilson’s leadership far outweigh any negative elements in the Glasgow captain’s game. The forward was yellow-carded against Munster at Scotstoun on Monday moments after his team, a man up at the time, had closed to within two points.
The Warriors went on to lose the game 27-13. But, while accepting that the late and dangerous tackle that got his skipper sinbinned had been “a poor decision”, the head coach insisted that in general his combative virtues far outweighed any downside caused by such occasional lapses of discipline.
“Ryan Wilson has been absolutely outstanding for this group,” Danny Wilson said. “I’ve been so impressed with his leadership on and off the field. His commitment to Glasgow Warriors is phenomenal.
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“Having said that, he is the first to admit he made an error and a poor decision when we’re only two points behind with 10 minutes to go. It’s tough enough against Munster when you’ve got 15 on the park and eight forwards. He fronted up to the group and apologised. He was devastated after the game – that shows the character of the man and his commitment.
“There’s sometimes some overspills from him that happen infrequently. You want Ryan’s edge, competitiveness and aggression. And every now and then you might get a negative with that. But I don’t think this one was any more than a rush of blood and a bad decision. It cost us and he’s man enough and big enough to put his hand up for that.”
Some Munster players reacted to Wilson’s offence on Craig Casey, and the home captain appeared unhappy about the attention he received. His coach agreed that the captain might not have been the only offender, but said he would leave any other potential action to the authorities.
“There was a bit of handbags after, and on the video there’s certainly a hand that comes across on to the top of Ryan’s head. The camera angle doesn’t show any more than that. We’ll leave that with the relevant people to deal with – the PRO14 takes care of that now but I know it has been or is still being looked at.”
The Munster loss means the Warriors are eight points adrift of the play-off places in Conference A going into Sunday’s game against Cardiff Blues in Newport. It is a match for which Wilson, who took over as head coach in June, will again be without a host of players because of international duties and injury.
“I think we’re all fully aware it’s been a difficult period,” he added. “It’s been very, very challenging and will continue to be very, very challenging.
“We’re sat here today with 24 players unavailable to us. That’s a fair number for any squad, especially a squad that wasn’t completed due to the Covid situation. It’s a unique situation. I don’t think we’ve ever been in a situation like this before and I hope we are never ever in a situation like this again.
“But at the same time, it has given us an immediate opportunity to learn about a lot of players. I’ve come into the squad here and there’s a lot of players I probably wouldn’t have learned about now because I wouldn’t have seen them play if everyone had been available to us.
“But I have seen lots of squad players, I have learned about a lot of younger players, and it means for the future we can make decisions about people with a lot of information. And we can build on some of the experiences that these guys are picking up now.
“So there are positives, definitely. But I’m not going to shy away from the fact we know it’s a tough period.”
It will be the first time that Wilson has been head coach against the Blues, where he was in charge for three seasons until 2018, when he headed north to become one of Gregor Townsend’s assistant coaches with Scotland. “It will be great to see some old faces, it will be great to see some old friends – I still keep in touch with a lot of those guys,” he said. “But yeah, strange times, isn’t it, going to play Cardiff Blues at Rodney Parade in front of nobody.
“My last game with the Cardiff Blues was the Challenge Cup final, so there were great memories there and I had some brilliant times at Cardiff. Going to Rodney Parade with no crowd is probably a little bit different.”
The coach thinks he could get the odd player back from the Scotland squad for the trip to Wales, while Nick Grigg and Tommy Seymour, both injured in the early stages against Munster, will come into consideration provided they pass their concussion protocols. However, Leone Nakarawa remains sidelined with a knee injury.
“He’s currently rehabbing and training with us, light training,” Wilson said of the Fijian forward. “He’ll be back in the coming weeks but not this week. Still a bit to do.”