Sale stars set to sit out Scotstoun Champions Cup clash

Faf de Klerk and three team-mates will not make their post-World-Cup return until round two of the Champions Cup

Faf de Klerk
Faf de Klerk will be one of the Sale internationals missing from their game against Glasgow. Image: Christiaan Kotze/Fotosport.

FAF de Klerk would have been assured a warm reception by Glasgow Warriors fans on Saturday week after his heroics at the World Cup. But neither the South African scrum-half nor his three Sale team-mates who took part in last weekend’s final in Japan will play against the Warriors in the Champions Cup match at Scotstoun, according to Sharks head coach Steve Diamond.

De Klerk’s fellow-Springbok Lood de Jager had already been ruled out of the Pool Two game, having injured his shoulder in his team’s 32-12 win over England in the final. England forwards Tom Curry and Mark Wilson, on the other hand, were expected to be available along with De Klerk, but Diamond has decided they should be given further rest.

“I’m giving them two weeks off,” the coach said earlier today (Wednesday) at the Champions Cup launch in Cardiff.  “They [Glasgow] will no doubt have their World Cup players back. With Faf de Klerk, Tom Curry, Mark Wilson. . . .  Lood de Jager is out for three months with his shoulder, but I’ll state the case – [the first three] won’t play at Glasgow.”

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In fact, the Warriors will not have all their World Cup players back, as Jonny Gray will miss the first two rounds of European competition after being given an extended rehabilitation period by Scotland coach Gregor Townsend. “Obviously unlike other unions we’re run by ourselves,” Diamond added, referring to Glasgow’s need to fit in with Scottish Rugby’s plans. “So we determine that. They’ll come into the competition for La Rochelle at home [in week two]. 

“If I’m honest De Klerk, Curry and Wilson all wanted to come back in this week, but common sense tells us another couple of weeks off. Faf’s still wandering around in his underpants.”

Told that Diamond planned to give his key internationals a rest, Glasgow coach Dave Rennie said: “That will be nice of him. They have recruited a lot of African meat, haven’t they? They are a big side, they’re very strong up front. They have been pretty innovative over the last couple of years. We expect them to come up and have a real crack.”

Rennie is in his last year at Glasgow and has been linked with coaching vacancies with the Australian and New Zealand national teams. “I’ve addressed the guys because there has been so much speculation, just to say that the only contract I’ve got at the moment is Glasgow and that’s my focus,” he added.

Rennie declined to say much on the week’s big talking point, the fine and points deduction handed out to Saracens by the English RFU for breaching their league’s salary cup. Saracens defeated Rennie’s team on the way to winning last season’s Champions Cup, but the coach insisted he had not felt cheated.

“The French have big budgets,” he said. “I don’t think there is a salary cap in Europe, as far as I know.

“Our attitude was that we were beaten by a better side; the side that went on to win. I don’t have an issue at all.

“It’s a tough comp, there’s no doubt,” he continued. “We had a really tough pool first year – Leinster was in that and they went on to win it. We had Saracens in our pool last year. We managed to squeak through. It doesn’t get much easier with the pool we have this year. We’re desperate to get back to the knockout stages and once you’re there you’ve just got to be your best team for 80 minutes. We’ll certainly give it a crack – we’re very keen to build on last year.”

Squad update

Meanwhile, the Warriors have confirmed that full-back Glenn Bryce will remain part of their squad for some time to come, having initially been re-signed on a short-term deal along with some others who have now returned to the Scotland Sevens squad. Tevita Tameilau and Pat O’Toole have both left, however.

“Glasgow Warriors can confirm that Glenn Bryce will remain with the club for the foreseeable future, with the Alloa-born full-back having impressed over the course of the season so far,” a statement from the team said. “The 28-year-old had initially returned to Scotstoun in the summer, alongside a group of Scotland 7s players, but will now remain with Dave Rennie’s playing group.

“Having made his Glasgow debut back in 2014, Bryce has scored six tries in his 23 appearances for the club to date. Alec Coombes, Gavin Lowe, Kyle Rowe, Max McFarland and Robbie Fergusson have returned to Scotland 7s.

“New prop Aki Seiuli arrived in Glasgow on Saturday following the conclusion of his Mitre10 Cup commitments with Otago. The New Zealander joined up with the squad at Scotstoun yesterday, ahead of Saturday’s game against Zebre in Parma.

“Fiji international hooker Mesu Dolokoto is expected to arrive at Scotstoun later this month, having represented his country at the Rugby World Cup in Japan. Meanwhile, Paddy Kelly has been called up to the Scotland 7s squad for the first time ahead of the season opener in Dubai next month.

“The club can also confirm that USA back-rower Tevita Tameilau has been released to explore new opportunities. The 29-year-old made six appearances in a Warriors shirt last season, scoring his only try for the club in February’s victory away to Cardiff Blues. Hooker Pat O’Toole has also left the club following the conclusion of his short-term contract.”

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About Stuart Bathgate 1438 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.