DAVE Rennie plans to sign about six new players for next season, with some of the incomers expected to be available for Glasgow from the start of the campaign with the rest arriving after the Rugby World Cup. Speaking after it was announced that he had signed a one-year contract extension, the Warriors coach also said he would be bringing in a replacement for departing assistant Jonathan Humphreys but not for Mike Blair – and that, despite speculation linking him with the Australian national team, he would consider agreeing to stay longer in his current post once his fresh deal expires in June 2020.
Although Glasgow have re-signed some key members of their current squad, they are losing Stuart Hogg to Exeter, and new arrivals have so far been conspicuous by their absence compared to Edinburgh, who have more or less completed their business for next season. But Rennie insisted that the lack of noise from Scotstoun should not be regarded as lack of activity, and that in any case his squad was not in need of a major overhaul.
“People get excited by big names or new names, but we made about 18 changes in the first year, so there was a big shift of players out and players in,” the New Zealander said. “I think we brought in about six last year, we’re going to bring in about six next year, and I think if we’re making 14 changes we’ve obviously got some things wrong in regard to our contracting. Some of those changes are down to guys like Hoggy leaving, so there won’t be massive change.
“We’ve got a good squad, good depth, and there are just a couple of positions that we think can strengthen us. We’re pretty sorted with contracting, so we’re not sitting on our hands waiting for something to pop up.
“It’ll be a bit of both,” he continued when asked if the new signings would arrive before or after the World Cup “Obviously some guys could be at a World Cup. Some guys, if they’re coming out of Australasia, could be involved in another comp, but we’re going to have enough numbers to do what we need to do prior to the World Cup.
“For some of the smaller nations, those guys will be out for three games. Someone like a Siua [Halanukonuka, the Warriors prop] will be away with Tonga, and round four’s a week off, then round five he’s potentially been back a couple of weeks.”
Next season’s Glasgow squad will have four coaches, not five, to deal with, given Rennie’s decision to resume the attack coaching duties that he had largely relinquished to Blair, who is moving to be part of the Scotland set-up full-time. The former Scotland scrum-half will still be seen at Scotstoun on occasion, but the coaching team will really be Rennie, Kenny Murray, Jason O’Halloran and whoever replaces Humphreys, who is moving back to Wales as an assistant to incoming national coach Wayne Pivac.
“We’ve known that Humps is leaving and we’ve known about Mike for a while,” the head coach continued. “Mike’s great. We spend a big chunk of the year without him, so we’re not actually going to replace him, so we’ll go with four coaches. I imagine we’ll get Mike in a little bit – because of his Scotland connections he’ll come in to work with the nines.
“We’ve got someone to replace Humps who we think’s going to be great. He’s not easy to replace – he’s done a fantastic job with our pack. I don’t like talking positively about him in the media because he gets excited by that sort of stuff, but he’s an excellent forward coach and Wales are lucky to grab him.”
Rennie insisted that his decision to renew his Glasgow contract for only a year was based on family considerations rather than an interest in taking charge of the Australian national team as successor to the outgoing Michael Cheika. The Australians do not have major playing commitments between the end of the World Cup in the autumn and the expiry of Rennie’s new Glasgow contract in the middle of next year, but the head coach himself suggested they would want a replacement for Cheika to be in place before then.
“It’s speculation, and I’d imagine that they’ll appoint someone new post-World Cup,” Rennie said of the talk linking him with Australia, where former Scotland director of rugby Scott Johnson now holds the same post. “I’m committed here to the middle of 2020 and I won’t walk away from my contract here. I’m not even sure what their schedule is, but I’d imagine they’ll go straight into something. Normally a northern team’s touring down that way and then they have the Rugby Championship, so that [waiting for him] would be pretty difficult.
“I’m not too worried about speculation, because every time there’s a job up certain names get bandied about. We never sat around and talked about a multi-year deal or extension. I was happy to extend for 12 months based on where we were at – this was quite a long time ago – and could extend beyond that. The biggest challenge for us being over this way is being away from grandkids and kids and so on. We committed for one year and then will be in a position where we’ll make a decision whether we need to head closer to home or whether we’re prepared to stay here longer.
“From a family point of view we’re committed for an extra year and we made the commitment months ago – it’s just taken a while to get it on paper. We’re happy with the decision. There’s still 15 months or so until that contract is up, plenty of time to make a decision on where we’ll be based after that. The wife’s happy, which is key, so we could well stay longer.”
Jones on verge of comeback
Meanwhile, Huw Jones could come into contention for Glasgow’s game at Leinster on Saturday provided he comes through training on Thursday. The Scotland centre has been out of action since injuring a knee while playing against Ireland in February.
Adam Hastings will also be available for the PRO14 match in Dublin despite a shoulder knock, while Callum Gibbins, who has been out following concussion, will be rested this week but is expected to be passed fit for the game against Edinburgh at the end of the month.