They may be shedding Fijian players like they are going out of fashion but at least Glasgow Warriors have managed to hold on to some local talent with the announcement yesterday that three Scottish international breakaways, Chris Fusaro, Rob Harley and Ryan Wilson, have all signed contract extensions.
The trio will now stay at Scotstoun until at least May 2018, which had Gregor Townsend sporting a broad smile.
“It’s great news,” said the Glasgow coach. “It’s a whole back row together, so that worked out well. It’s three players who we have been looking to sign and we’ve been speaking to them at various times and I think we just got the last one a couple of days ago so we’re pleased.
“These guys are excellent rugby players, fantastic for our culture. All three of them have captained the team this year so we are glad they are staying.”
Townsend was asked if the players had been offered deals by foreign clubs or whether there were others reasons for the protracted negotiations.
“I am sure they would have,” he replied. “It’s not as simple as we offer everyone a contract at the same time. We probably approached a couple earlier and some of them like to negotiate longer than others but we have managed to get them over the line in the last couple of weeks. They are all great guys… you can put that down!”
The Fijian pair of Leone Nakarawa and Taqele Naiyaravoro are both following Niko Matawalu out of Scotstoun at the end of the season but the three who signed yesterday join a core who have already committed: Jonny Gray, Finn Russell, Pat MacArthur, Fraser Brown, Alex Allan, Sila Puafisi and Ali Price. While all three have been long-term Warriors, Fusaro hails from Cupar in Fife and Wilson was brought up in the English system, joining Glasgow from Moseley back in 2010. But the third signing, Rob Harley, can be classed as a genuine “Weegie” after attending Milngavie’s Douglas Academy and graduating to the famous West of Scotland club while still a schoolboy.
“We’ve been very successful in my time here and there is a great culture at the club,” Harley said. “There is a really good work ethic and a desire from all the players to learn more and improve every day.
“I supported Glasgow growing up and was a season ticket holder at Firhill. To come out of the stands and on to the pitch was an amazing experience and what you dream of when you’re growing up.”
Despite being just 25 Harley has been one of the most consistent players for Glasgow, turning out 131 times.
If the flanker is hoping a good performance at home to Cardiff on Sunday will create a stir among the Scotland selectors, he isn’t alone. Fraser Brown was Ross Ford’s first reserve throughout last year’s World Cup but he has since slipped in the rankings. Is it perhaps a sign that the front row in Scotland, so long a cause of national embarrassment, finally boasts some strength in depth?
“Yes I think so,” Brown replies. “If you look at the players we have coming through at the moment, we now have a good second choice and young guys coming through. You look at Zander [Fagerson], he is only 20, and Moray [Low] went down to Exeter and he is having a good season. The experience level behind the first choice is so much higher than before. Again it forces people to improve and constantly up their level. This season we [Glasgow] have a huge focus on our front-five play and how we can dominate teams up front. We are maybe focusing more on trying to beat teams up physically and then being able to move the ball.”