Rennie wields axe as only four Warriors retain places for Dragons match

Warriors coach says there must be consequences of Southern Kings debacle

Oli Kebble (front) and Rob Harley
Oli Kebble (front) and Rob Harley return to the Glasgow pack tonight. Image: © Craig Watson. www.craigwatson.co.uk

DAVE Rennie has revealed there were “some pretty brutal one-on-ones” after Glasgow’s humiliating defeat by the Southern Kings last week, and has named only four of the players who began that match in his team for tonight’s PRO14 game against the Dragons.

Ruaridh Jackson, Huw Jones, D’Arcy Rae and Ryan Wilson are the quartet who keep their places, while Tommy Seymour, Pete Horne, Nick Frisby, Jamie Bhatti and Greg Peterson have been left out of the squad. George Turner, Nick Grigg and Chris Fusaro drop down to the bench, and Adam Ashe, Scott Cummings and DTH van der Merwe have joined a growing injury list.

Frisby and Peterson in particular were the focus for many supporters’ dissatisfaction with the 38-28 defeat in Port Elizabeth, but after naming his team yesterday Rennie himself refused to single out anyone for criticism. Some of the 11 changes, he said, had been scheduled in any case, and he insisted that the players who have been dropped will be desperate to make an impact when they return to the matchday squad.


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“There have been changes for a variety of reasons,” the Warriors head coach stated. “With some guys, we had already planned to rest them for this game because of their Scotland commitments. Some guys obviously have injuries, and we were keen to get some fresh legs after the trip to Africa.

“But, absolutely, some decisions have been made around form and performance. We’ve had a good week: it helped to create an edge and the boys are keen for a bit of redemption. It’s good to be able to do that at home.

“There have been some pretty brutal one-on-ones. For any player that wasn’t aware they didn’t play well, they know now. We’ve chosen this side accordingly, and we think we’ll get a response. They’re all good men, and they’re all desperate to impress.”

Fresh legs for Dragons

With Stuart Hogg and Zander Fagerson among the longer-term injuries, Rennie’s starting line-up is some way off what would be considered his strongest team. But, with the likes of Callum Gibbins restored to the initial 15, the coach insisted, with some justification, that he had chosen a side which should not be seen as underestimating the Dragons.

“We’re putting out a  very strong side which shows we’re certainly very wary of the threat the Dragons will pose. I think this is a really good blend – some fresh legs with a lot of experience.

“We’ve been on the road for three of the last four weeks. We have some good depth in key positions and were keen to give guys a game. Look at Lee Jones and Niko Matawalu – two very impressive wingers. We were always keen to give Andrew Davidson a crack in this game. And so on.”

That keenness to involve the on-loan Newcastle lock this week can only have grown because of Peterson’s poor performance against the Kings, but Rennie offered no more than mild criticism of the American international. “Greg is no different to the other guys who aren’t playing this week. He worked really hard and there’s a lot of attention to detail around our lineout stuff.

Dakota

“He went in really clear on what was expected, but like a few others we just needed a bit more physicality from him and some urgency around some key stuff. Sometimes you’re trying hard when you’ve waited a while for an opportunity and you put yourself under a bit of pressure.”

The coach offered a similar assessment of Frisby, even suggesting that the Australian international scrum-half would return to the squad as early as next weekend’s game against Zebre. “I’m not concerned. I thought he was pretty good in the pre-season and he was very good off the bench against Connacht.

“We’ve got good depth at nine. He was disappointed with the way he went. He’s a really good player – he misses out this week, but he’ll probably be back in the mix next week. Ali [Price] played really well [off the bench] and that’s the reason for the selection.”

Like Frisby, Pete Horne will also be in contention for a place against Zebre, despite putting in his least impressive display for some team against the Kings. “He’s such a professional and really tough on himself – he doesn’t have to worry about what social media or anyone else is saying about his performance.

“We were always planning to rest Pete here and I know he feels he would love to be back out there just for a chance at redemption. He’s an outstanding player; a really important part of our team. I have confidence in him – he’ll probably be back in the mix next week.”

 

Glasgow Warriors (v Dragons at Scotstoun, tonight, 7.35pm): R Jackson; L Jones, H Jones, A Dunbar, N Matawalu; A Hastings, A Price; O Kebble, F Brown, D Rae, R Harley, J Gray, R Wilson, C Gibbins, M Fagerson. Subs: G Turner, A Allan, A Nicol,  A Davidson, C Fusaro, G Horne, B Thomson, N Grigg.

Dragons: J Williams: D Howells, A Warren, J Sage, J Rosser; A Robson, T Knoyle; R Bevington, R Hibbard, L Fairbrother, B Nansen, R Landman, A Wainwright, N Cudd, L Evans. Subs: E Dee, B Harris, A Jarvis, H Taylor, J Thomas, R Williams, J Lewis, W Talbot-Davies.

 


FORMER Warriors captain Al Kellock will make his debut as a live commentator at the match, which is being broadcast live on Premier Sports. Kellock, an Ambassador for Scottish Rugby, joins Emma Dodds, Rory Hamilton, Dougie Vipond and Sean Holley on the commentary team.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Kellock said. “The best teams always bounce back well from disappointment and show their ability, and while the Dragons may see Glasgow as a tough place to go, they can take confidence from their own momentum recently and they have some key leaders and experienced players in their team – guys like Richard Hibbard, who can galvanise players away from home. They’re improving and building and will have seen that the Kings showed up Glasgow Warriors in some areas of the game.

“However, Glasgow Warriors have played some great rugby at home and if their backline fires it is dangerous. Their loss last week may help them bring a better performance on Saturday night –and they’ll be building on how they played last time at home against Munster and if they do, they’ll probably have a bit too much on the field for the Dragons.”

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About Stuart Bathgate 1427 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.