GLASGOW WARRIORS will be without Leone Nakarawa for their back-to-back matches against Edinburgh during the next fortnight because he is still in Fiji following the birth of his first child.
Head coach Danny Wilson wasn’t able to give a precise return date but stressed that he is not concerned about the 32-year-old going AWOL as he did with Racing 92 after last year’s World Cup, which resulted in the French side sacking Nakarawa for “a total lack of team spirit and a marked insubordination”.
“Leone is not available,” Wilson confirmed. “Basically, what happened with him was his wife was due end of July, so he’s been in Fiji and we gave him that grace to spend a little bit of extra time with his wife and family.
“On top of that, the first flight out of Fiji was this week, because flights have been locked down, so we’re in the process of getting him back, put it that way.
“I am confident he’ll come back but I’m new into the club. Hopefully there won’t be any issues, I’m not foreseeing any issues, but you have to wait and see, don’t you! There are flights to get people on and they need to be on those flights. So far, up to now, for the very right reasons, we’ve given that grace, as you would do with anyone who needs to spend time with family when they’re needed for milestone events. Hopefully that gets returned and we welcome him back soon.
“With all these boys they’ve got to have the relevant time to return to training, return to rugby, to be safe.”
Wilson also revealed that winger/centre Kyle Steyn and loose-head prop Aki Seiuli are out of contention for this weekend.
“Kyle has a hamstring injury which will delay when he will be available, until we get a full assessment of that injury. Aki broke his thumb a couple of weeks ago and is in a cast, a short-term one, he’ll be out of that pretty quickly, but will probably miss both games,” explained Wilson.
Wilson also suggested that there may be a surprise selection at full-back, which is one of the positions where the Warriors are pretty thin on the ground after the retirement of Ruaridh Jackson this summer and the departure of Stuart Hogg to Exeter Chiefs the summer before,
“It was never the plan to not have an out-and-out full-back, if I’m putting it bluntly,” conceded Wilson. “Post-Covid, we were hit with the problems and restrictions that we had. We were looking to sign a full-back and, unfortunately, that didn’t happen. So, we’ve looked at that in a slightly different way.
“Without giving too much away, you might see a little bit of a surprise at full-back, something that we’ve been training and working on.”
Former Scotland winger Tommy Seymour has played at full-back on various occasions throughout his career, Glenn Bryce is currently training with the squad “in the short term” according to Wilson, and first year pro Rufus McLean offers plenty of zip. However, by the tone of Wilson’s comments, it seems like he is looking at a more left-field solution to this particular selection conundrum, such as Huw Jones or Stafford McDowall swapping the midfield for the No 15 jersey.
Co-captains offer variety in leadership style
Earlier in the day, it was announced that Ryan Wilson and Fraser Brown will co-captain the Warriors squad during the final few weeks of the 2019-20 season, and throughout the 2020-21 campaign, which is due to start on the weekend of 3rd October.
Wilson previously captained the side on a solo basis during the 2017-18 campaign and then jointly led the team with the now departed New Zealander Callum Gibbins for two seasons. Brown is new to the role, but the 50-cap Scotland hooker has loads of experience as an influential member of leadership groups at both club and international level.
Coach Wilson explained that his usual instinct would be to name just one captain but the hectic schedule of the next nine months prompted him to split the role.
“This season has changed quite dramatically over the last few weeks from the announcement of the international period which will make it like no other season,” he explained. “We’re going to lose our Scotland players for eight weeks before Christmas, and then again post-Christmas for the Six Nations, so, all of a sudden, the season becomes pretty broken up into two working groups and an element of that has come into consideration.
“Ryan wasn’t in the last selected Scotland squad, while Fraser was and part of the leadership group, so we know that we are going to lose him for a fair period of time.
“Ryan and Fraser also complement each other in terms of their leadership styles, which was another key part of this. Ryan is a real character – a jack-the-lad type of person – he’s very popular with the group, he gets up morale, he adds humour where it needs to be added, and he drives standards.
“Then you’ve got Fraser, who is extremely on top of standards, studies the game inside out and is a key decision-maker in terms of how the flow of the game is going.”
While the two players are equal partners, if they are on the pitch at the same time then the buck is going to have to stop with one of them, and that will be with Brown this coming weekend against Edinburgh.
“The co-captaincy is obviously based on the season but this weekend the referee’s port of call from a captaincy perspective will be Fraser, although both players will have their part to play,” said the coach.