SCOTLAND internationalists Sam Johnson and Simon Berghan are among the five players who will leave Glasgow Warriors at the end of this season. It has already been announced that Ryan Wilson is moving on, while head coach Franco Smith confirmed two weeks ago that Lewis Bean and Cole Forbes are on their way out.
Cameron Neild, who joined the club in November on a short-term deal to the end of this season, will also not return next season.
Speaking at the end of last month, Smith indicated that all of this summer’s departees are doing so on their volition. “Nobody here is being let go,” he said . “Everybody has a choice. I don’t want to go into it too much, but it’s sad to lose them. It wasn’t the intent of the club to lose them at all, but the players also have a choice.”
It has been reported that second-row Bean will join Montauban in French rugby’s Pro D2 (second-tier) next season, but it is not clear at this stage where any of the other leavers are headed off to.
The departure of Johnson is the biggest eye-brow raiser given his service to the club in 104 appearances over the last eight years. At 29, he should still have a few good years left in his playing career and the no-nonsense. hard-running centre is bound to attract suitors, either in Europe or back in his native Australia.
With a combination from Sione Tuipulotu, Huw Jones and Stafford McDowall expected to populate the Warriors midfield during next Friday’s Challenge Cup Final clash against Toulon in Dublin, it looks like Johnson will not have an opportunity to bow out in front of the club’s supporters.
Berghan also has international pedigree and has played regularly this season – he’s been involved in 19 out of a possible 26 matches – but with Zander Fagerson, Murphy Walker, Lucio Sordoni and Enrique Pieretto all on the books, Warriors are fairly well stocked at tight-head prop.
In the club statement announcing the departure, Smith said: “Thank you to Ryan, Sam, Lewis, Cole, Simon and Cameron for their contributions to the club this season, I am grateful for their hard work, and wish them all the very best in their new challenges.
“After a season like this it is difficult to say goodbye to players that bought in and contributed the way they did. They have all played a valuable part in helping us to reach the league quarter-finals, and will keep doing so as we continue preparations for our first ever European final.
“I sincerely thank these players for their commitment to the Glasgow Warriors team and the club’s values.”