THE good news from South Africa is that there has been no issues with Glasgow Warriors players being bitten by lions. Scrum-half Ali Price confirmed yesterday that he and all of his team-mates have managed to avoid the fate suffered by Ospreys and Wales hooker Scott Baldwin, who tried to stroke the head of a big cat whilst on a team trip to Weltevrede Game Lodge on the outskirts of Bloemfontein ahead of taking on the Cheetahs last weekend, and ended up needing eight stitches in his hand.
Not only did Baldwin miss the Cheetahs game, he has also been ruled out of his team’s next match against the Scarlets this coming Saturday night.
“There’s been no lions,” confirmed Price, before revealing the some of his team-mates had visited a crocodile sanctuary but managed to resist the temptation to pet the snappy reptiles.
“A few people went to a croc farm yesterday but I don’t think there was any touching involved. All hands were kept behind fences. Personally, I’ve just been training then chilled around the hotel,” said the 24-year-old.
The team will fly from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein tomorrow [Thursday] ahead of taking on Toyota Cheetahs on Friday evening.
“We’re all looking forward to it. They’ve obviously hit their straps recently with three good wins on the trot. They are a big physical pack, love their set-piece, and they’ve got a lot of gas in the back three – so we see it as a brilliant challenge for us to keep going with how we’ve started the season,” said Price.
“We’re looking forward to playing a nice, quick, open game which I think will suit both teams. It’s a massive challenge but one we are up for and looking forward to.”
Price added that the team are not overly concerned about the prospect of playing at over 4,500 feet above sea level.
“We did a session yesterday afternoon when we had more prolonged periods of play. It is slightly different, you lose your breath a bit quicker, but what we soon realised is that you recover quickly. I feel we are in a good spot. The training will help in the game,” he explained.
“We have not mentioned it that much, we like to think we are a fit side and are not going to use that as an excuse. We have been training in Johannesburg, which is apparently a higher altitude than Bloemfontein, and we coped with it all right – so I am sure that come the game we are not going be thinking about it, we are just going to go out there and play.”
“We know it will be tough – it would have been tough if it was at Scotstoun – so we are not really thinking about that [altitude] as an issue.”
Glasgow Warriors have won all five league games played so far in this season, but Price insisted that none of the players are in danger of resting on their laurels after their flying start to the campaign.
“For us, it is about building the intensity and accuracy. Treviso [last week] was good in parts but we don’t feel our intensity was quite there, or some of our accuracy. For us, it is trying to get the perfect balance. Munster [two weeks ago] was a good baseline for us in terms of what is expected now and we are looking to get better than that – push on in the intensity stakes, push on in the accuracy,” he said.
“I feel it will come. From weeks one and two to four and five, it is clear that everyone now knows their roles, knows how we are trying to play and what is expected of us. Every week, that is only going to improve.”