Injury worries begin to ease for Glasgow

Stafford McDowall among those expected to be fit to face Scarlets at Scotstoun on Friday

Jason O'Halloran
Glasgow Warriors assistant coach Jason O'Halloran. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson

GLASGOW Warriors suffered scars both physical and mental as they lost heavily to the Cheetahs on Friday night, but assistant coach Jason O’Halloran is confident they will have recovered from the damage by the time they welcome Scarlets to Scotstoun on Friday night.

The Cheetahs were undeniably impressive as they got the PRO14 season under way with a 48-14 home win, but Glasgow made it easy for them with a performance which badly lacked cohesion. To make matters worse, Nick Grigg, Andrew Davidson, Kyle Steyn and Matt Fagerson all suffered injuries, but the good news is that O’Halloran believes they all have a chance of coming back in for the first home game of the campaign along with Stafford McDowall, who was ruled out of the match in Bloemfontein by concussion.

“I think they’re all sort of wait-and-see type of situations at this stage,” O’Halloran said today (Monday). “We have a day off tomorrow and we should have a pretty much clearer indication on Wednesday. We’re hopeful on all accounts, but we can’t confirm anything at this stage.

“Stafford travelled to South Africa with us and was able to see a specialist over there. We’re pretty comfortable he’ll be available for selection after the feedback we had. It was a head knock, but there was also some muscular pain involved. He’s come off his meds now and we’re pretty confident he’ll be able to play.

“He got the head knock in the second Ulster game, and he continued to have a few headaches and things like that. But he is a lot better now and we’re pretty confident that he’ll be available.

“That’s pretty much the slate as it looks at the moment – other than a bit of broken morale here and there, but we’ll sort that out this week.”

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On the mend

How to repair that broken morale? O’Halloran thinks that is largely a job for the players themselves, not only on the field of play but also – and in a sense more importantly – at training in the days leading up to a game.

“Bottom line is we need to train better,” he continued. “We didn’t train particularly well all week, and we didn’t play well, so we’ll have to look at our away form and what’s the issue. Is it a mental thing, is it this or is it that?

“As well as that, we just didn’t have the right physicality. We weren’t quick enough into the breakdown, we allowed them to slow the rucks down, and they got a wall in front of us and defended well. It’s pretty basic, really: tackle better, hunt better, carry better, clean better.

“There’s a thousand things you could point at, but to give you confidence to carry into the game, we’ve got to train better. So the boys have made a commitment to that, and if we get that right it will lead to a bit more confidence and clarity around roles. And we should see that borne out at the weekend.

“Within our game plan there are certain individuals who are responsible for certain areas. We can look at those areas and see how well they were performed then ask questions of those guys.

“This is the first game, so you can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. But they need to do a better job. If it continues to be a problem a month down the track, or even a week down the track, then it becomes a selection issue.”

The show must go on

Given so many players underperformed, the same squad by and large looks set to be given the chance to put things right. After just one match, O’Halloran does not see the value in over-reacting.

“There may be one or two [changes]. There won’t be a huge amount, I wouldn’t think. I think as a general philosophy we’d like to give those guys another opportunity to put it right.

“If this becomes a trend over the next couple of games, then it will be a real issue for us. But we’ve just had a pretty brutal review and really pointed the finger at a few individuals. We feel like we needed to do that, to get some accountability for what happened, and then hopefully the boys will be highly motivated to do better this week.”

The coach is convinced they will have to be highly motivated against a Scarlets team who, in contrast to his own side, got off to a strong start at the weekend, beating Connacht 18-10 at home.

“We’ll need to be better, because I thought Scarlets were pretty impressive at the weekend – a lot more so than in their two pre-season games,” he concluded. “They were absolutely 1,000 per cent better against Connacht than they were in pre-season, so they’ll be tough.”

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About Stuart Bathgate 1394 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.