GLASGOW WARRIORS are pretty well stocked for centre options at the moment, with Scotland internationalists Huw Jones, Alex Dunbar, Pete Horne, Sam Johnson and Nick Grigg [who was a member of the Guinness PRO14 Dream Team last season] all vying for starting spots when fit.
Furthermore, during last Saturday’s impressive victory over Harlequins in the Famous Grouse Pre-Season Challenge in Perth we had confirmation that two youngsters are ready to make the step from fringe players to genuine contenders for game time in the Warriors midfield.
Stafford McDowall – a Fosroc Scottish Rugby Academy Stage 3 player, who captained Scotland during this summer’s World Rugby U20 Championship – put in a solid shift as a second-half substitute in an emphatic 50-17 victory.
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Meanwhile, Paddy Kelly – a 22-year-old who is in his second year as a full-time pro but has struggled with injury and has managed just two competitive appearances off the bench for the Warriors so far – was a rock in midfield during the first half, powering over the whitewash for his team’s opening try and creating plenty of go-forward with his hard, direct ball-carrying.
Club co-captain Ryan Wilson has certainly been impressed with how the youngster has approached pre-season this summer.
“Some of the young guys stepped up and played really well [on Saturday],” said the back-rower, who was rested for that match but is expected to get a run-out against Northampton Saints in the team’s final pre-season match at Franklin Gardens this Friday night.
“Those guys have all trained together pre-season and Paddy Kelly has been one of the stand-outs in terms of fitness. I think he’s the fittest guy I have ever seen. He’ll give George Horne a run for his money.
“We did a triathlon over in Millport and he was outstanding.He was pretty much the man of the day. He has an engine on him and he’s a pretty good footy player as well. It will be good to see him go this season.”
Both youngsters are registered to play for Ayr in the Tennent’s Premiership this season when not required by Glasgow Warriors. Ayr are McDowall’s home club while Kelly was selected by the Millbrae outfit in this season’s pro player draft.