GLASGOW Warriors have drafted in reinforcements to shore up their tight-head resources and take a little pressure off Zander Fagerson who has played 720 minutes of the 10 games he has featured in so far this season, including five where he has played the full 80 and one when he came off only in the 79th minute.
The latest to be added to the squad is one for the future as 19 stone Argentinian prop Enrique Pieretto has agreed to move north from Exeter Chiefs next season after impressing when the two sides drew at Scotstoun last month in the Heineken Champions Cup.
He has been, revealed John Dalziel, the Glasgow forwards coach, a long-standing target. “We’ve looked at him for a long time, he’s a good lad, really good set piece. He played well in the last Exeter game against us. He’s young he wants to learn and kick on. We’re looking forward to having him,” he said.
Pieretto won’t arrive until the summer and with D’Arcy Rae still recovering from tearing a tendon in his hand and Siua Halanukonuka, the Tonga international, slow to recover from his calf problem, Warriors were looking pretty thin on the ground in terms of recognised No 3s at the start of the week, with Adam Nicol and veteran Petrus Du Plessis the only two candidates for next Friday’s clash against Zebre – but they have whisked in Ewan Mcquillan from Southern Knights Super6 franchise and Gaston Cortes from Leicester Tigers to help plug the short-term gap.
While Fagerson insists he is more than happy to play as often as possible and stay on as long as possible, it is still a big ask for the player even though Dalziel is impressed with his ability to cope.
“Zander is a bit of a freak,” he said. “You don’t get many tightheads who can play so long. He gives you so much outside the scrum and even for Scotland he’s on the field for 70 minutes.
“He’s a young fit lad and he gets through so much work on both sides of the ball. Sometimes it’s change for change’s sake at 50 minutes or so but Zander can go a lot longer than that. He’s worth keeping on
“That’s not detrimental to those sitting behind him it’s just he’s hitting a good vein of form and everybody is getting minutes out of him. It’s an area we are looking to strengthen, though. It’s good to get a young lad [Pieretto] who has played a lot of Test rugby and has so much ahead of him.”Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 27)
With resources stretched and Fagerson off on Scotland duty for the next batch of games, the short-term signings are going to have an important role to play in the team’s chances of being in the end of season play-offs, which Dalziel insists is absolutely the target with the team starting to pull clear of their early-season slump.
“We enjoyed our rugby before the break, we were starting to hit our straps a bit,” he pointed out. “We’re trying to get off to a good start again this weekend [at home to Zebre] and build week-to-week.
“The selection meetings we’ve been having these last couple of days, there are a plethora of players and it’s hard to finalise the squad for this weekend – we’ve got genuine competition.
“We’ve got guys without international experience who are not in and around the Scotland squad at the minute and that suits us. So we have a strong squad and we’ll be looking to get the best squad out there.
“We have two or three [from the Scotland squad] in training, Tom Gordon and boys like that. George Horne, Peter [Horne] is here. Kyle Steyn. They have had minimal minutes. They all come up for selection. We try to plan in advance and get the right blend in the team.”