URC: Glasgow v Sharks: Franco Smith delivers positive Warriors injury update

Head coach provides detail on the outlook for Rory Darge and other missing players

Rory Darge is missing this weekend's Glasgow Warriors versus Sharks game with an ankle injury. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Rory Darge is missing this weekend's Glasgow Warriors versus Sharks game with an ankle injury. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

GLASGOW WARRIORS head coach Franco Smith has revealed that the ankle injury suffered by Rory Darge in training this week is not expected to keep the flanker out of action for more than a few of weeks.

“It’s not that serious,” said Smith. “It’s an irritated tendon so, if we can, we would like to have him 100 percent to go to South Africa. The better we manager him in the next three weeks the better chance we will have.”

Smith added that the injury may be a consequence of Glasgow Warriors training on the artificial pitch at Scotstoun on a daily basis.

“Funnily enough it was after training, he was walking and felt the irritation after doing the full training,” explained the coach. “In pre-season this year he trained on grass with Scotland most of the time and now the different surface that we train on might cause a little bit of irritation here and there.

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“We’ve noticed that before. It’s maybe just a training surface thing. We do a lot of line-outs and it might be a bit of a strain there. We always look at finding the source so we can have a solution but there’s not a specific thing we can find with this one.”

“I must say Rory flaring up this week and Josh McKay getting ill made selection [for tomorrow night’s home URC c lash against Sharks] a little bit difficult from that perspective but on the other hand it gives us an opportunity to keep on building on the depth of the squad,” Smith added.

“It’s good to know there are some new recruits [returning from injury] coming later on when we might need them the most. There are [potentially] eight very important games left in this season from our perspective and we are going to need to have the best guys in the best form available. So we will handle the setbacks with the idea that they will be important for us later on.

Sebastian Cancelliere (knee) will be back training with us next week, and Sione Vailanu (also knee) is also tracking well, so we’ll see if they can both start training with us from next week onwards to try to make sure they are available for selection before we go to South Africa,” continued Smith, who also stated that he hopes to have Scotland internationalists Jamie Bhatti (foot), Huw Jones (hand) and Richie Gray (bicep) back for the final game of the regular URC season, at home to Zebre on 31st May.

George Turner had a little operation this week to remove his appendix. Fortunately, it happened while his foot was injured so both of these things can recover at the same time and he will be touch and go towards the end of the season,” he said.

JP du Preez, Ollie Smith and Fraser Brown are the three guys who will definitely not be involved before the end of the season.”

Smith also confirmed that he did not make a play to bring Ali Price back to Scotstoun ahead of the on-loan scrum-half agreeing a 12-month contract to stay at Edinburgh throughout next season.

“No, we didn’t try to bring him back,” he said. “Ben Afshar has stepped up to the plate and we would very much like to invest in the next generation now. Ali has a role to play there, I believe. For us the future in the next four to five years is just as important as the current situation. I think our time we are going to invest in Jamie Dobie and Ben – and George Horne is not old, just older – and there are a lot of opportunities for those guys that will serve the Scotland purpose better.”

Smith was not quite so clear about how he plans to manage the stand-off resources within his squad following the recruitment of Adam Hastings ahead of next season, with four experienced players now potentially all competing for the No 10 jersey – the others being Duncan Weir, Tom Jordan and Ross Thompson – if nobody else is moved on.

“Tom Jordan can cover at centre,” he suggested. “We didn’t replace Sam Johnson last year and Tom has done well at centre, but we will see how things work out. Obviously, we always want to keep the Scotand plan in the back of our minds so we’ll see how that develops, but for now it will be healthy competition.

“I hope Adam can come and contribute to what’s here. We would like to think the environment that we’ve created, he will fit well with that. I don’t know him that well as a person. I’ve just had a few conversations with him, but what I understand from the people who have played with him and been in an environment with him when he was here before is that he is a class team personality who adds value and is very competitive.

“There are enough ingredients for both parties to complement each other and the way that we play will suit him well. But he still has to earn the right to come here and be the starter, and he knows and realises that. The competition in that role is good and we look forward to seeing what experience he can bring. Once we get to know each other better through pre-season I can maybe comment better on him then.”

Finally, Smith shot down the suggestion that Sharks had belittled the URC and insulted Warriors by resting almost all of their frontline Springboks for this weekend’s trip to Scotstoun.

“That would be the furthest thing from the truth,” he stated. “They’ve got a very good squad. The reason we haven’t seen their whole squad as often is because they were losing at the beginning of the season. They started off with their first four games away from home, a new coach, a new assistant coach, new S&C, and the Springboks who were at the World Cup weren’t involved until January. There were so many ingredients that unsettled them.

“The important thing here is that the URC is about playing with 50 players who can put their hand up at any time and take responsibility, and then injuries like the ones we’ve got don’t influence the outcome of games.

“The Sharks have that squad, they have that quality, it’s just taken them a little more time to come together.

“I’m very wary that this team has not yet been seen as a collective. I come from South Africa and I know every player and they’ve recruited very well. That is a much stronger team than anyone will give them credit for, and a lot of those players will be chomping at the bit now because ever since the tide has turned for them they haven’t had a chance to add their value.

“So, I’m actually very wary of them as some of those players would like to put their hand up for selection for their [Challenge Cup] semi-final and maybe also the final. Regardless of the way the world perceives them without their Springboks, that is still a very, very good team and that makes them dangerous.

“Any win against us will be a big one for them.”

URC: Glasgow v Sharks: two changes to Warriors starting XV

About David Barnes 3956 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

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