GLASGOW Warriors coach Gregor Townsend will use Friday’s match RaboDirect Pro12 match against Leinster as a barometer of his team’s progress this season.
Townsend’s side are on a run of six successive victories in the competition and are looking to make it seven against the two-time champions.
Leinster are currently five points behind the Warriors and have suffered three defeats on the road so far this season, with their only away win coming in a narrow one-point victory over Treviso in Italy.
They have, however, won every game at home this season, including the prized scalp of Munster at the RDS.
And Townsend is taking nothing for granted when Joe Schmidt’s Irishmen make their first visit to Scotstoun Stadium.
He said: “The Leinster game is one that I’ve been looking forward to since the fixtures were announced.
“I’ve got a massive amount of respect for what they’ve managed to achieve and it is a good indicator of where we stand as a side.
“We’ve not beaten Leinster in our last four outings against them [three defeats and a draw last season] so the players here know they have to be at their best to match them in all aspects of the game.”
Townsend expects to have a number of players back in the selection mix when his team is announced tomorrow. He said: “We’ve used 40 players so far in the PRO12 and I’ve been delighted with the progress we’ve made as a squad in the first third of the season.
“There is going to be even more competition for places soon, as we have a number of players coming back from injury and putting themselves into contention for Friday. This will stand us in good stead as we enter a crucial run of games.
“Rory Lamont is now back running, as are Graeme Morrison, Ed Kalman and Murray McConnell. We have Jon Welsh and Chris Cusiter also well on the road to recovery.
“Pat McArthur, Duncan Weir and Byron McGuigan have been in great shape this week at training and DTH van der Merwe has made a full recovery from the hamstring injury he suffered at the start of October. Moray Low, who was injured in the same match as DTH, should also be available for selection this week.”
The Warriors will also be able to call on three players who have been involved with the Scotland squad for this years EMC Tests. Stand-off Ruaridh Jackson, centre Alex Dunbar and second-row Tom Ryder have all returned to Glasgow and could be called upon for Friday’s clash with Leinster.
Townsend continued: “With Sean Maitland arriving at Scotstoun this week and Mark Bennett joining us on loan, it’s great to have all these players coming back at some point in the next few weeks as we push to cement our place in the top four of the competition.”