GREGOR Townsend has no qualms about changing a winning side when it means restoring four of his Scotland caps as the Warriors’ bid for a first home semi-final in the RaboDirect PRO12.
Glasgow are on a run of seven straight wins, beating Northampton in the Heineken Cup and adding six victories on the trot in the PRO12 and the key has been strength in depth.
Townsend has changed the team regularly to ensure players are given opportunities and maintain a high level of competition, and it has paid off. So he is confident that bringing back Al Kellock, Jon Welsh, Moray Low and Duncan Weir, with Henry Pyrgos on the bench will bring the necessary performance to beat Cardiff.
“It’s important that we keep the momentum going,” said Townsend. “This is a crucial game for us to stay in the top two and it must be remembered Cardiff have five out of their seven wins away from home.
“They [the internationals] are desperate to play. I got texts straight after the [Ireland] game when I was congratulating them on their game that they’re really keen to play.”
Kellock came to the Glasgow win over Ulster and Townsend reported that it had a positive impact on the Scottish squad.
“Watching our game on Friday night gave them a boost, seeing the team fighting so hard for each other, and I think someone like Duncan took the confidence from the game he played at the Dragons into a game context with Scotland.
“It’s great having those internationals back and, when you look at the workrate that our props put in last week, to have the freshness with Gordon Reid, who missed last week’s game, Jon and Moray coming into the squad helps us too.”
Former loosehead Welsh is being developed as a tighthead prop and Low as a loosehead to increase Scotland’s front row strength while, in the backs, Townsend has released Mark Bennett to the Scotland under-20s for their matches with Wales and France. Alex Dunbar has been restored to the 13 jersey with Weir back so Horne can return to inside centre.
Townsend added: “You pick the best team you can to win the game. Last week, against Ulster at the top of the league, with a very good defence, we prepared very well and it was a fantastic effort. What I’ve been reminding them is that why we beat Ulster was our support to the breakdown, accuracy and effort for 80 minutes, and the same will apply this week.”