DANNY Wilson plans to add two more big names to his Glasgow squad for next season in addition to the already-confirmed signings of JP du Preez and Sione Vailanu.
The Warriors squad has been significantly strengthened this season by the recruitment of Josh McKay, Jack Dempsey and Sebastian Cancelliere, and the head coach is confident that South African lock Du Preez and Tongan No 8 Vailanu will also be valuable additions. But, after seeing his team slump to another avoidable away defeat at the weekend, Wilson appears to believe that further recruits are required as they try to take the next step from being there or thereabouts in the URC to mounting a genuine challenge for the title.
“We’re certainly looking to strengthen our squad,” Wilson said earlier today. “I think we’ve done that to an extent with the ones that we’ve announced – Du Preez and Vailanu are two big impact players in the forwards. We’ve got a couple more that we’ll perhaps be announcing at the relevant time as well.”
Although loath to give away too much about the identity of those potential signings, Wilson hinted that only one of the two would be Scottish. “I would say there is a bit of both,” he continued.
“In this period now, even though our international players are back, we have to manage and look after a few of them. We can’t keep playing them – and rightly so. We need a squad that can deal with that.
“We need to be able to get Scottish players out there and to develop Scottish rugby players, internationals and the next crop of internationals. That is 100 per cent our responsibility. But you have to do that with a sprinkling of talent that is here all the time – you’re not going to lose it, you don’t have to manage it, you’ve got it here playing when you need it. We need players like Josh McKay to bolster us when our internationals are away.”
McKay was on excellent form in the first half against Cardiff, while Dempsey was also impressive in spells and Cancelliere scored a try either side of the break. But the team as a whole once more proved unable to see out an away game, allowing Cardiff to fight back from 13 points down to win 32-28.
Glasgow can be relied upon to keep fighting to the death at Scotstoun even in games when they are below their best and end up losing, but they have wilted too often on the road for Wilson’s liking. “It’s very frustrating, to be honest with you, that away from home we score a bonus point, four tries, by 42 minutes,” he continued. “You have to come away with a win there.
“The yellow card [for Cancelliere] hurts us then, in terms of taking a bit of momentum out of us on 50 minutes, and we don’t really get back into the game – we keep giving Cardiff field position and opportunities. And when you’ve got quality players like Jarrod Evans and Willis Halaholo, they’re going to score, and that’s what happened.
“So really disappointed in the final 30 minutes, and on the road that’s three times that’s happened to us. Scarlets I can see illness and an issue there that perhaps affected us physically; I think Exeter and this Cardiff game you’ve got to ask serious questions about going on the road and bridging the gap between being contenders and being a championship team.
“We spoke about it as a group – we did things a bit differently today and got opinion from senior leaders and from the playing group generally. We said a couple of times now it’s got to the point where we struggled to find a positive outcome from a series of negatives.
“As an example, after we concede a try, we get the ball back off the kick-off, we get turned over. Next thing we give a penalty away, next thing we give a penalty away, next thing we give a penalty away … So without Cardiff really having to do anything, they’re five metres away from our line, and they score.
“Away from home it’s eradicating those doubled-up negatives. We only gave nine penalties away in the game, but I’ve just given you three that were on the bounce, on top of each other. It’s those small situations where we need to quickly stop the rot as opposed to letting the rot set in.
“And there’s a whole host of things that we’ve talked about. There’s the technical and tactical side of that and there’s a mental side as well. We discussed that today and it’s the next part of us achieving what we want to achieve.”
Glasgow should return to winning ways at Scotstoun on Friday when they play Zebre, who are bottom of the table without a win to their name. But the expected five points from that game will not be enough to determine whether they stay in the URC top four at the end of the regular season – something they need to do to get a home quarter-final. Instead, that will depend on how they perform in three consecutive away games – against the Stormers, the Bulls, and Edinburgh.
“A championship team wins regularly on the road and that’s the next step for us,” Wilson concluded. “We’ve taken huge steps this season from last season, but the final steps are about being more consistent on the road.”
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