Montpellier v Glasgow: Danny Wilson glad to have selection headache

Warriors head coach is likely to go with experience over potential ahead of Challenge Cup last 16 match

It has been a long time since Dany Wilson had something approaching a full squad to choose from. Image: © Craig Watson -
It has been a long time since Dany Wilson had something approaching a full squad to choose from. Image: © Craig Watson -

DANNY WILSON says he is looking forward to having some tough selection decisions to make ahead of Friday night’s Challenge Cup last 16 clash away to Montpellier, perhaps for the first time this season.

With a dozen players returning from international duty and a number of long-term absentee through injury such as Fraser Brown, George Horne, Peter Horne and Niko Matawalu also back in the frame, Wilson is in a position to field a far more experienced side than has been possible for most of this Covid-interrupted season.

He has been impressed with how youngsters such as Ross Thompson, Rufus McLean, Ollie Smith and Jamie Dobie have stepped up at various points during this Six Nations window, and is keen to reward their efforts, but in knock-out European rugby he is likely to go with the tried and tested in most, if not all, the key selection calls.

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“We’re all about bringing the young guys through and using those opportunities to play them, but we also haven’t had the other boys available to force us to make those decisions, so it is great that we have that selection headache in a couple of positions now,” he said. “We’ll weigh up the experience versus youth question, and other things like form, as we look to pick a team we believe has the best possible chance of getting a win on Friday.

“I feel defensively we still need to improve a little bit, so we’ll pick the right players so we can deliver on both sides of the ball,” he added. “You want your experienced players out there, although it has been pleasing to see some of the performances we’ve had from some of our young boys.”

It was a long hard Six Nations campaign for Scotland and Wilson is mindful that some players may be feeling physical, mental and emotional fatigue, but his impression at the start of the week is that they are all raring to go, and he is mindful that there will be opportunities to rest players during the next fortnight.

“Each player who has come back from Scotland duty this week has said they want to play this game – they see it has a reward at the end of it if we get a win – but there are a few bumps and bruise, and boys who have been in camp a long time, so we need to see how they are,” he said.

“As things stand, over the next three weeks there will be some time off. If we win this weekend we go again the following week [in the Challenge Cup quarter-final]. If we don’t, we won’t have a game. And there is no game on the weekend after that. So we’ve got the opportunity to rest some boys.”

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Montpellier are currently 11th in the France’s Top 14 table, but their recent form – like Glasgow’s – has picked up, and they come into this match having won their last three games on the bounce.

“They had a good win at the weekend against Toulouse away and that’s a hell of a result against a team at the top of the pile,” said Wilson. “You go through the Montpellier team, with their budget and the money they have spent on individuals, and you see there’s some real quality there. Plus, French sides are usually more effective at home than they are on the road so it’s a big challenge.

“It doesn’t feel like a Challenge Cup fixture – away to Montpellier would usually be a Champions Cup tie – but there’s a reward of a home quarter-final if we can get a win. Europe has been strange for us this season as we only got to play one game in the pool stage, so this is a game to be excited about and hopefully we can go there and get a reward.

“We’ve won three of our last four games so we’re going into it on the back of some decent results. The key is to get our international players back into Glasgow jerseys and into Glasgow’s way of doing things, so that everyone is back on the same page.

“It’s a huge challenge, a really big fixture, but it could lead into a home quarter-final which would be massive.”

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About David Barnes 3908 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.