After falling off a horse, the first thing to do is get back in the saddle and that was the line adopted by Glasgow boss Gregor Townsend as his team licked their wounds following that mauling from Munster.
The coach has selected a strong team to play against Treviso this evening in an effort to get Glasgow back on track and grow his players’ self-belief, which was sorely dented by the nature of last Saturday’s shellacking in the Champions Cup.
“It’s been a chastening but important learning experience for us, that game,” said a rueful Townsend at the team announcement. “If we ever get into the same situation again I would do things differently and we would be ready for it. So… disappointed that it happened but we have a game this weekend to show more of what we have been doing in the last few weeks.
“I hope nothing like that [happens again]… but there will be situations which bring a crowd or a team out with real passion. I imagine Leicester in the last Champions Cup game will be highly motivated to play us and there will be a 25,000 capacity crowd. So for different reasons, we will go to places with our backs against the wall and the build-up might be different to those games but we obviously didn’t play as well as we set out to do and that is what we have been working on this week.”
The starting team is similar to the one which finished a distant second last weekend with the exception of the front row which is all changed, Alex Allan, Pat MacArthur and Sila Puafisi start this evening. In the backs Mark Bennett comes in for Sam Johnson in the midfield and Tommy Seymour makes a welcome return, the winger’s first start in October, just in time for the autumn internationals.
Peter Horne also makes a return from a hand injury although he must make do with a spot on the bench where the little midfielder will be dwarfed by two formidable imported forwards with the combined weight of a whopping 253kgs (forty stones if you voted “leave”), both of them hoping to make their Glasgow debut.
Brian Alainu’uese is a Kiwi lock who has played age grade international rugby for Samoa and arrived from Waikato on the recommendation of Dave Rennie, Glasgow’s next head coach.
Langilangi Haupeakui “so good they named him twice,” quipped Townsend, is an American Eagle from East Palo Alto in California and both men have their coach drooling at the impact these twin heavyweights offer.
“Langi has been here two and a half weeks,” said Townsend. “He came over to Ireland with us as twenty-fourth man. He is desperate to play so there was the usual visa issues and getting him over here early enough. His strengths are defensive, he is an excellent tackler.
“He has an American football background so he’s only been playing rugby this last two years. He played both sides of the ball in American football, offence and defence. He is a good runner, explosive, his timing is really good, he reminds me of a rugby league player the way he runs those unders lines and he is covering the back row positions.
“Langi has only been in pro rugby for the last six months and the last Eagles game. Greg Peterson [Glasgow lock and USA Eagle] said this guy has joined us and you should look at him. [Eagles coach] John Mitchell gave a really good report on him which is great.
“Brian [Alainu’uese] is 22 but looks like he has been playing the game at the highest level for the last ten years. He fitted in so well on Monday, we were doing our attack shape and he picked it up very quickly. His match fitness is really good. He played the last eight weeks for Waikato in the Mitre Cup.
“He is obviously impressive physically, 135kgs but he moves well. He doesn’t look overweight. I haven’t spoken to Dave Rennie, his target weight is probably nearer to 130kgs but he doesn’t look overweight.
“We looked around for second row cover but he stood out a lot. Brian had an option to go to France but thankfully we got in at the right time and Dave helped us with that. We are pretty excited about getting a player of that quality.”
Glasgow’s opponents Treviso are led by the ageing warrior Alessandro Zanni, Tommy Allen starts on the bench and starting in his place is former Leinster No 10 Ian McKinley. He is difficult to miss as the stand-off sports protective goggles. A stud blinded him in one eye and threatened to terminate his professional career until he commissioned the protective eye wear.
That may be the most interesting thing about this evening’s opposition. Treviso boast just one victory in seven league outings to date, the sort of opposition that are just what Glasgow need to get back to winning ways. Anything less than a bonus point win this evening for the home team will see Townsend reaching for his hair shirt for a second successive week.