THE Glasgow Warriors team to face Ospreys in the Guinness PRO14 at Scotstoum tomorrow night gives some clues as to what the make-up of the Scotland team might be when they launch their Six Nations campaign against Italy next weekend. However, there remains more questions than answers as to what Gregor Townsend is really thinking.
Adam Ashe is released back to play number eight for the club this weekend despite a glut of injuries amongst leading Scotland back-row contenders, which suggests that he won’t be involved against Italy, especially as Ryan Wilson has been wrapped in cotton wool. Ashe has played fairly regularly during the last few months so is not desperately in need of game time.
Similarly, Tim Swinson is in the second-row, which indicates that his slim chance of forcing his way into contention in the second-row has evaporated some more – with his club-mate Jonny Gray (who has not been released back), Edinburgh duo Grant Gilchrist and Ben Toolis, and Sam Skinner of Exeter Chiefs all ahead of him in the pecking order at this stage.
Oli Kebble is listed as ill which might be a blessing in disguise. It means that the two loose-head props in the Scotland training squad – Alex Allan and Jamie Bhatti – will get game time tomorrow night, which both players could really do with given that one of them will have to be understudy to Allan Dell next weekend. Allan has started only one of the 14 matches for club and country he has been involved in this season, and has not managed more than 40 minutes in any of those outings. Bhatti has started three game and come off the bench six times, but wasn’t involved in either of Glasgow’s recent European clashes.
Hooker Grant Stewart is rested and it will be interesting to see if Dave Cherry is treated similarly when the capital purify name their team tomorrow. Townsend appears keen to keep his options open as much as possible as he ponders whether to entrust one of this pair, or another uncapped proposition in Jake Kerr of Leicester Tigers, as back-up to Stuart McInally.
Neither George Horne nor Ali Price are involved this weekend and it remains a straight shoot-out between that pair for the deputy scrum-half spot behind Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw.
It looks as if Nick Grigg is destined to miss out on a Scotland call-up having been named at outside centre against Ospreys, indicating that a combination of Adam Hastings, Pete Horne, Sam Johnson and Huw Jones will populate the midfield and bench against Italy next Saturday.
As expected, Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour have nor been released back, but Lee Jones takes a spot on the wing.
There is set to be two debutants for Warriors off the bench in the shape of Ayr player and Academy prospect Robbie Smith (who was captaining Scotland Under-20s team this time last year) and Thomas Gordon, who is on a partnership contract with Currie Chieftains.
More to follow …
Glasgow Warriors (v Ospreys at Scotstoun Stadium, tomorrow 7.35pm, live on Premier Sports): Ruaridh Jackson; Lee Jones, Nick Grigg, Stafford McDowall, Niko Matawalu; Brandon Thomson, Nick Frisby; Alex Allan, Kevin Bryce, Siua Halanukonuka, Tim Swinson, Scott Cummings, Rob Harley (C), Matt Smith, Adam Ashe. Subs: Robbie Smith, Jamie Bhatti, D’Arcy Rae, Tevita Tameilau, Thomas Gordon, Robbie Nairn, Alex Dunbar, Rory Hughes.
Injured players: Fraser Brown (knee), Matt Fagerson (shoulder), Zander Fagerson (ankle), Bruce Flockhart (ankle), Chris Fusaro (neck), Callum Gibbins (ankle/knee), Oli Kebble (illness), George Turner (ankle), DTH van der Merwe (hip).
On Scotland duty: Jonny Gray, Grant Stewart, Ryan Wilson, Sam Johnson, Adam Hastings, Stuart Hogg, George Horne, Pete Horne, Huw Jones, Ali Price, Tommy Seymour
Ospreys: Dan Evans; Hanno Dirksen, Johnny Kotze, Cory Allen, Luke Morgan; Sam Davies (C), Tom Habberfield; Gareth Thomas, Scott Baldwin, Tom Botha, Lloyd Ashley, James King, Olly Cracknell, Sam Cross, Rob McCusker. Subs: Scott Otten, Rowan Jenkins, Gheorghe Gajion, Will Griffiths, Will Jones, Matthew Aubrey, Luke Price, Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler.