CHRIS Cusiter believes the reliability and rugby nous of Henry Pyrgos will edge out the unpredictability of Niko Matawalu to earn him the start at scrum-half for Glasgow in their top-of-the-table Guinness Pro12 clash with Munster.
Pyrgos started Glasgow’s previous two outings against Toulouse in the European Rugby Champions Cup, while Matawalu came off the bench to score a try in the first match and almost turn the tide in the second.
But Cusiter, who mentored both men at Scotstoun before his summer departure for the English Premiership with Sale Sharks, suggests Warriors are lucky to have two players who offer such contrasting qualities and are driving each other on.
Cusiter said: “You would have to say that Henry provides the more structured play and probably has the more reliable service whereas Niko offers you so much pace and creates so many things through his own efforts, they both provide Glasgow with something different.
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“If you look at the Toulouse game last week, then Niko made a tremendous impact off the bench and perhaps even more when he came on in the first game and got a fantastic try.
“But, against Munster, I think it will be important to put the ball in the right areas and really manage the game and Henry has developed a strong kicking game and has a good tactical head on him.
“To be able to bring Niko off the bench and let him create havoc when Munster are starting to tire, just doubles the impact he can have.”
Both Glasgow and Munster lost double headers against French sides in Europe and, with the leadership of the Guinness Pro12 at stake, Cusiter added: “Neither of them will want to ship three losses on the bounce but Glasgow have built a great reputation at Scotstoun and they will be absolutely determined to provide a response to the Toulouse defeat.
“What Glasgow can’t afford is for the big Munster pack to get on the front foot. They have powerful ball carriers and, if they are consistently able to come round the corner and play aggressively, it is going to be a tough afternoon for Warriors.
“The first quarter is going to be vital as the last thing Glasgow can allow is for Munster to develop momentum.”
With the 1872 Cup derby double-header against Edinburgh next up, Cusiter is in no doubt a victory over the men from Limerick would provide a huge fillip after Glasgow’s European woes.
He added: “If you look at Glasgow’s next four fixtures in the Guinness Pro12 before they return to Europe, they have three at home and, in there, you have the two 1872 Cup derbies with Edinburgh while, if they beat Munster tomorrow, they may well go back on top of the Pro12. So it is a very important stretch. In that regard I think discipline will be another key factor to getting the better of Munster and starting this run of huge games with a win. If you look back at the play-off semi-final last season, there was absolutely nothing between the sides and that is where a silly penalty here or there can kill you.
“Sale had a 23-7 lead at half-time over Munster in our European Cup game but they found a way to come back and beat us. This Munster team never know when they are beaten.
“So it is going take a complete effort for the full 80 minutes from Glasgow.”
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