AS so many Glasgow players under-performed against the Cheetahs last week, there were never going to be wholesale changes for tomorrow night’s match against Scarlets. With 15 players away at the World Cup and a handful of others already on the injury list, Dave Rennie’s room for manouevre is fairly limited at present. And, as Rennie’s assistant coach Jason O’Halloran explained at the start of the week, there is a feeling that the players who fared so badly in South Africa should be given a chance to redeem themselves.
Which explains why Rennie has restricted himself to three changes in his starting 15, two in the backs and one up front. Ruaridh Jackson comes in at full-back from the bench, swapping places with Glenn Bryce. Stafford McDowall returns at centre, where he takes over from the injured Nick Grigg. And in the pack, Kiran McDonald replaces the injured Andrew Davidson in the second row.
Kyle Steyn and Matt Fagerson have both recovered from the injuries they sustained in the 48-14 defeat in the PRO14 opener in Bloemfontein, so retain their places, with Fagerson making his 50th Warriors appearance. But Bruce Flockhart, a substitute last week, is not fit to resume after picking up a shoulder injury, and Adam Ashe is still out with a similar problem. Tom Gordon therefore comes on to the bench as one of two back-row replacements along with Chris Fusaro, while starting blindside Rob Harley will cover for lock.
The other change on the bench sees Paddy Kelly named at 23 instead of Robbie Nairn. In general, though, Rennie’s message to his players has been to go out tomorrow evening and prove that last week was an aberration, and he believes the attitude in training shows they are in the right frame of mind to do so.
“The reaction has been exactly what we expect from the players,” he said. “It was a disappointing defeat to a Cheetahs side that played very well, but we were miles off it.
“We had a pretty brutal review and then the players have responded well in training. We’re expecting another tough test this weekend, though, against a very good Scarlets side.”
Wales winger Tom James makes his debut for Scarlets, having joined from Cardiff Blues in the close season. He replaces Ryan Conbeer in the only change from the starting line-up that beat Connacht at home last week.
Glasgow Warriors (v Scarlets at Scotstoun, tomorrow [Friday] 7.35pm, live on Premier Sports): Ruaridh Jackson; Kyle Steyn, Huw Jones, Stafford McDowall, Rory Hughes; Brandon Thomson, Nick Frisby; Oli Kebble, Grant Stewart, D’Arcy Rae, Tim Swinson, Kiran McDonald, Rob Harley, Callum Gibbins (captain), Matt Fagerson. Substitutes: Alex Allan, Johnny Matthews, Adam Nicol, Chris Fusaro, Tom Gordon, Jamie Dobie, Glenn Bryce, Paddy Kelly.
Scarlets: Johnny McNicholl; Tom James, Steff Hughes (captain), Paul Asquith, Steff Evans; Dan Jones, Kieran Hardy; Rob Evans, Marc Jones, Samson Lee, Lewis Rawlins, Steve Cummins, Tom Phillips, Josh Macleod, Uzair Cassiem. Substitutes: Taylor Davies, Phil Price, Werner Kruger, Josh Helps, Dan Davis, Dane Blacker, Angus O’Brien, Corey Baldwin.