Glasgow hooker Pat MacArthur has revealed that banned prop Sila Puafisi is doing all he can to help his side prosper without him as the Guinness Pro12 season reaches its climax.
The Tongan tighthead was handed a three-week ban on Monday for the red card he received in the 14-7 defeat at Connacht on 7 May, ruling him out of this Saturday evening’s semi-final rematch between the sides in Galway and any potential final at BT Murrayfield.
MacArthur said that his front-row colleague was “gutted” to have left his team-mates battling for the final quarter with 14 men and ultimately missing out on a home semi-final after his head charge at a ruck.
“He is a passionate, big man. He came here at the start of the season and he loves the club and playing for the boys. After the game he was truly gutted,” said MacArthur.
“When he spoke to the boys he was down. He said he would do his best in the scrum sessions. He knows that is where he can help because he cannot play. That is where he will give his all. That is how our team work. The boys not selected, or do not play, give their all to push the starting boys. He said he was gutted that he had put the rest of us under pressure. That was his main message. He said he would work his hardest to make it up to us all.”
That red card and some other moments of ill discipline cost Glasgow in Galway and coach Gregor Townsend has spoken of the need to regain a bit of emotional control this weekend.
“With Big Sila, an incident happened. The boys just tried too hard on occasions,” continued MacArthur. “That is the best way to put it. We have to understand that we push ourselves to the limit but not over that. That is where that control has to come.”
The 29-year-old Ayrshireman, who has six caps, came on for that man-down last quarter, replacing Fraser Brown off the bench and it is likely he will be in the same back-up hooker role on Saturday. He admitted that, so soon after their last meeting at the same venue, the analysis room has been as important as the training field this week.
“We will do a lot of analysis and so will they,” he said. “We hope to do a lot of learning from it and have new ideas and new ways to attack them on their home pitch. I speak from the forwards perspective and we want to take them on up front.”
MacArthur rejected the notion that the reigning champions had held a bit back the other week. “No. not at all. We don’t go into our game not giving our all,” he said. “We are known for our work-rate and effort over the last five, six, seven years and that is what we pride ourselves on. We were disappointed not to get a win but it gives us more ammo to go back and try again.”
He knows Connacht, who are in a first-ever play-off game, will be feeling they have more to give too as they look to carry on their fairytale season all the way to the final at BT Murrayfield on 28 May.
“I am sure they will be sitting there back at The Sportsground happy that they won. They are a very good team and have been at the top of the table all season and will have confidence in their own ability.
“They will their plays and plans and we have to prepare the way we will prepare.”