RICHIE VERNON is due to make his long-awaited return from injury on Saturday playing at number eight for Currie Chieftains against Ayr at Millbrae, in what could be a crucial moment in the race to snatch a good position in the BT Premiership play-off draw.
Ayr are currently third in the table with 37 points and Currie Chieftains are fourth with 35 points. Both teams have a game in hand over second-placed Heriot’s, who have 41 points.
Meanwhile, Warriors prop Oli Kebble, a summer recruit from the Stormers in South Africa who managed only two appearances before hurting his foot in early September, will also play this weekend for Marr at Watsonians.
The 24-times capped Vernon made the first 20 of his international appearances in the back-row for Scotland between November 2009 and June 2012, before switching to centre and forcing his way into the squad for the 2015 World Cup – playing in two warm-up games and two matches at the main tournament, including that agonising quarter-final defeat to Australia, when he was a 70th minute replacement for Warriors team-mate Peter Horne.
Vernon was also a key man playing at centre in Glasgow Warriors’ march to the PRO12 title in 2015, playing in each of the team’s last 11 matches of that campaign [starting 10], including their play-off semi-final victory over Ulster and their historic grand final success over Munster.
He has, however, been jinxed by injury during the last two and a half seasons, undergoing surgery on a serious shoulder problem and then on his Achilles. He has managed just 11 appearances for Warriors during that time, and has not played since March.
He has been selected at number eight in this game but is still in contention at Warriors as a centre. He is probably of greater potential value to the pro team as a back-row in the immediate future given the injury concerns they have in that area.
Meanwhile, Vernon’s Glasgow Warriors club-mates are in the south of France this weekend taking on Montpellier in the European Champions Cup. Their dream of making it into the knock-out stages this season might be dead in the water after three losses from three outings in the tournament so far, but tight-head prop Zander Fagerson insisted there is no danger of his side taking it easy.
“With Champions Cup rugby there is always a buzz around the place – even when the going gets tough. We’re really looking forward to righting a few wrongs and making a statement this weekend,” he said.
“We are not here to lie down – that’s not what we do at this club,” he continued. “We’ve had quite a tough start to the competition – we are more-or-less out of it – but we’ve got ambitions to be a real force in Europe so we need to use every game we have against the top sides as an opportunity to learn and grow and show that we deserve to be at that level.”
“There is a lot of ambition in this team, and I think we can end the season well, but it is important that we finish our European campaign with a good showing in the last few games because momentum is really important in sport.”
Warriors head coach Dave Rennie will name his team for that match later today.