GLASGOW WARRIORS assistant coach Kenny Murray says the fact that the squad has been without 13 frontline players who have been on World Cup duty during the opening month of the domestic season cannot be used as an excuse for a record of one win and three losses in the PRO14 – but he does concede that the return of a handful of Scotland stars, plus Canadian winger DTH van der Merwe, for this Friday’s home clash against the Southern Kings is a timely boost.
“Look at last year, we spoke a lot about how well we did in those international windows, we took 19 out of 20 points during the  Six Nations, so we’ve played well with guys away before,” reasoned Murray. “We’ve just not performed as well as we’ve needed to in the first four games of this season.
“Last weekend [losing away to the Dragons] was very disappointing because we should have won given the team we had on the park,” he added. “We went down there full of optimism and we’re very frustrated with how we played. We just couldn’t get any continuity in our attack, we spilled the ball far too often, we got ourselves into good positions with six line-breaks in the game but only got on the end of one of them to put any pressure on. So, those parts of our game were not good enough.
“It was similar in the Scarlets game [which Glasgow lost 21-25 at the start of October] when we played well for long parts of that, but we had this eight-minute period where we switched off, gave them cheap ball and let them in for tries.
“So, it is obviously disappointing to have lost the games we have lost already, but we know we can dig ourselves out. There are still a lot of games to play – the season doesn’t finish next week – but we do need to start winning games soon.
“Next up we have the Kings here and then Zebre away, so that’s another two games where, if we play to our potential, we should be looking to pick up a couple of wins going into Europe.
“We have Exeter, Sale Sharks and La Rochelle in that competition [the Champions Cup] so we have some big matches there and we will be looking to go into those games on a good footing, having played well in our domestic competition during the lead up.”
Murray confirmed that Scotland World Cup squad members George Horne, Pete Horne, Adam Hastings, George Turner and Zander Fagerson all trained on Monday and are in the selection mix for this weekend. “Then we have another group of guys who played a lot of game time in the World Cup and they’ll maybe come back in the week after for the Zebre game. It will be a more of drip than them all coming back in at once,” he added.
The return of the Horne brothers and Hastings will be a particular boost given that the Warriors looked particularly flaky – albeit in fairly horrendous weather conditions – at half-back against the Dragons last weekend.
Murray also gave short shrift to any suggestion that the recent speculation surrounding the future of Warriors head coach Dave Rennie might be cited as a mitigating factor for the team’s patchy form.
“It is not affecting anything from my point of view, [with regard to] coaches or players,” he asserted. “Dave made it clear last week that he is here to the end of the season and that is not going to change. It is up to him to talk about what happens after that. As far as any of us are concerned, we are not looking beyond that, it’s our job.”