Tim Swinson: Rennie wants everyone to feel they have a role

Tim Swinson says Glasgow Warriors will travel to face Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park with confidence but no complacency. Warriors lost in Cardiff at a similar stage of last season.
Tim Swinson says Glasgow Warriors will travel to face Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park with confidence but no complacency. Warriors lost in Cardiff at a similar stage of last season.
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In the past couple of seasons since they famously won the Guinness Pro12 it has become increasingly clear that, if Glasgow are to repeat the feat in this inaugural Pro14 championship, squad depth will be key.

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Last term, in particular, proved that the Warriors simply cannot get away with having a full first-choice XV and more away with Scotland for big chunks of the season unless there is quality back-up to step in during the autumn and Six Nations windows.

Former coach Gregor Townsend coaxed out a minor miracle in the 2015-16 season when his shadow side did the business and helped secure a semi-final spot, but it was a different story in the now Scotland boss’s final season as Glasgow finished sixth and outside the play-offs for the first time in his tenure.

Townsend’s successor Dave Rennie, pictured, has clearly made addressing that a priority and has moved to recruit accordingly, from his first signing in the shape of Kiwi back-rower Callum Gibbins to the recent return of fans’ favourite Niko Matawalu.

Glasgow and Scotland lock Tim Swinson revealed that the new head coach was carrying on the inclusive vision of Townsend and driving home a culture of competition that sees established Scotland stars, imports, emerging youngsters and academy prospects all feel they have a role to play and a chance to be involved come the weekend.

“The thing about Dave Rennie is that he wants to have the best two teams in the competition,” said Swinson as Glasgow prepared for Saturday night’s Pro14 visit to face Cardiff Blues.

“The last two weeks we have been really put to the test. The guys who have not made the 23 have been fantastic in training. That has really pushed the starting team and the bench. I lost a bit of the wind at the end of training on Tuesday.”

There is an argument to be made that Swinson was Scotland’s form player from the turn of the year, with some superb displays in Europe and shining when he got the chance for Scotland, including that memorable try in the Stade de France.

With Jonny Gray recovering from a wrist injury, Swinson is the lead man in the engine room as this season gets underway.

The bonus-point 31-10 win over the Ospreys at Scotstoun last weekend may have taken the Warriors second in their conference half of the new-look competition but Rennie’s response to the far-from-flawless performance was less than glowing.

Swinson has no problems with that assessment. “We are the same as that,” said the 30-year-old. “You can’t ask for much more in terms of a result but we showed a lot of character in our defence.

“The things we can improve on are the things we can control which we will work on this week. Dave is very fair. He is saying stuff we all know. He has a very clear plan of what he wants and is sticking to it. It makes it easy to understand what he wants as he says it repeatedly. It is fantastic for us.”

In contrast, Cardiff have lost their first two games and Swinson admits the Warriors will travel to the Arms Park with confidence, but not complacency at a venue where they lost at a similar stage of last season.

“We have won two games. In the last five years that would be looked on as pretty much normal,” said Swinson. “It is great to have nine points from the first two games. But we can’t just sit back and accept the result as the achievement. We want to play a good brand of rugby, be interesting. A lot of it is attacking as a team rather than just defending really well and living off a couple of mistakes we manage to force.”

Edinburgh went to Cardiff on opening night and Swinson said he had watched that game. “Yes, they did well, did a lot of good stuff we are going to try and emulate,” he said. “We have played really good in periods in the last two games and have been hard to stop so we have to play well for the whole period of a game rather than five minutes here, five minutes there.”