ROB HARLEY will surpass Graeme Morrison’s record of 176 games for Glasgow Warriors to become the player with more appearances for the club than any other, when he leads the side out against Munster tonight.
And at just 27 years of age, the big backrower has the potential to add several more good seasons worth of rugby to his current haul of matches played. If Harley’s career mirrors the relentlessness of his performances on the park on a week-to-week basis for the Warriors, then he could easily have six or seven more campaigns left in the tank.
“I have only been here a short time but Rob is one of those club men who plays at a massive level every week. He is super-consistent, a nuisance to the opposition every week and an outstanding man to have at your side. He is very popular, it is a pretty cool for everyone that he has reached this milestone,” said head coach Dave Rennie, when naming Harley as captain for this week’s assignment in Cork.
“He is very durable, he has not had that many injuries, and at 27 there is a fair bit of footie still in him as well,” Rennie continued. “A lot of that is around his professionalism, he is very dedicated around his recovery and so on. I have been really impressed with him, he has been a big part of our line-out group and our leadership group – just a massive contributor to our team.”
Harley is key
With so many senior Warriors either away on international duty or injured, Harley’s experience will be invaluable against Munster.
“I guess that is just the nature of the season, you have a couple of international windows. I am sure both sides would like to be at full strength but it is what it is. I am not sure they are missing too many, to be honest,” said Rennie.
“We will put a good side on the field but we will have to be better than we were [against the Toyota Cheetahs] last week. Munster have always been a power in European rugby and we are keen to go there and test ourselves.”
With Finn Russell, Peter Horne and Nick Grigg away with Scotland and Alex Dunbar injured, Rennie has had to field a pretty inexperienced inside back triumvirate of George Horne [16 appearances] at scrum-half, Adam Hastings [six appearances] at stand-off and Brandon Thomson [nine appearances] at inside centre – but Rennie says he is comfortable that there is enough ability and desire there to get the job done.
“We want competition for places. We want to get to the stage when at the end of the year we have a clean sheet for injuries and lots of competition for places … lots of guys in form. It is what it is, we will get on with it,” said the coach.
“George and Adam train a lot together and I have been really impressed with both of them, they are working really hard and there is a lot of attention to detail going into their game. Their analysis has been excellent and there has been a real honesty with feedback which they have been prepared to take on the chest when required. They are going well and this is going to be another big test.”
“Brandon is probably more of a 10 and he has trained a fair bit at 15, but he has put up his hand and is keen to play 12. He is a reasonably big lad, defends well and has a good kicking game. As a 10 his job is to help Adam out through a lot of talk and scanning.
“When we look at it, we have Peter Horne, Adam Hastings and Brandon who are our 10 options for next season. He is a really good player, a good man, and he has shown a lot of patience waiting for opportunities.”
Scotland tight-head prop Zander Fagerson will make his comeback from a foot injury which ruled him out of the first three games of this year’s Six Nations off the bench for the Warriors.
Glasgow Warriors (v Munster at Irish Indpendent Park in Cork, tonight [Friday], 7.00pm): R Jackson; L Jones, S Johnson, B Thomson, R Tagive; A Hastings, G Horne; O Kebble, J Malcolm, S Halanukonuka, K McDonald, S Cummings, R Harley, M Smith, M Fagerson. Substitutes: G Stewart, A Allan, Z Fagerson, L Wynne, C Fusaro, H Pyrgos, R Vernon, N Matawalu.