MONTPELLIER’s interest in the inaugural season of the European Rugby Champions Cup may be restricted to regaining their pride but Jerry Yanuyanutawa has warned Glasgow that, if they take the big-budget Top 14 outfit lightly, they could pay the price.
The French side have suffered a woeful European campaign so far, despite assembling a squad packed full of big names from the southern hemisphere, which had made them one of the favourites to emerge from Pool Four and book a quarter-final place in the Champions Cup.
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Yet they have only garnered two points from their first four group games, which included a 15-13 reverse at the hands of Warriors back in October at the Altrad Stadium. Their then head coach Fabien Galthie lost his job soon after that result.
That led to the arrival of South Africa’s World Cup-winning former head coach Jake White, under whom Yanuyanutawa had the privilege of playing during his three-year sojourn with Australian Super Rugby side the Brumbies.
The Fijian-born loosehead prop’s respect for the great White is clear and his praise for the South African’s coaching methods is glowing, so Yanuyanutawa is in no doubt that the Montpellier team which will tread the Scotstoun turf on Sunday will be transformed from the one-dimensional ensemble who yielded home advantage to Glasgow three months ago.
Yanuyanutawa said: “Jake has a big reputation and he likes the pressure. This is what he thrives on.
“He likes talking up the opposition, which I think he will try and do. It’s like a Muhammad Ali rope-a-dope. He is a very calculated coach, a forward planner. He won’t have the French mentality, he will be coming here for a victory because he is proud of his reputation.
“Tactically he is wise, very astute and we will have a big job on our hands come Sunday because Jake will have Montpellier very well prepared and really fired up.
“Jake is excellent at finding motivations and you can guarantee he will have found something to get the French boys up for this game,” added the Fijian international.
“They will come to Glasgow talking themselves down but that is not Jake White, he will have Montpellier coming for the win and believing they can achieve it.
“He is a very good manager, as well as a good coach and the year he came in at Brumbies we were struggling and had just lost our coach and no one expected anything from us. But then Jake brought through a young group of players and everyone thought we’d finish at the bottom of the Super Rugby, but we finished mid-table and, the next season, we made the semi-finals.
“When Jake first arrived at the Brumbies there were only two Wallabies but, by the time he left, there were around 17, which tells you just how good a coach Jake White is.
“But, as a pack, as a group, we won’t be underestimating them. We are going in focused on the job we need to do.”
While it is widely accepted that Glasgow will need two wins and a bonus point from their final two matches against Montpellier and Bath if they are to make the quarter-finals of the European game’s premier tournament for the first time, Yanuyanutawa says it’s imperative his side focus solely on achieving victory in Sunday’s 1pm kick-off.
He added: “Our focus is about getting the win first and foremost. It will be a tough game and we have to try to win it and whatever comes after that is great. The main thing is that we win come Sunday. If we do that, then we are still in the Champions Cup going into the final weekend of the pool games and still giving ourselves a chance.
“Also if we build the winning situation then, hopefully, we can close it and if we do get the bonus point that is a plus. But the big thing is we have to win and all our focus has got to be on that.
“You can’t go chasing bonus points against teams of the quality of Montpellier or you will come unstuck.”
It has been a frustrating season for the man-mountain prop, who did not recover from a knee injury until October, which has led to him having enjoyed only fleeting game time.
“It’s been tough with injury keeping me back in the knee problem and then by the time that clears up you are at the back of the queue and it’s just tough to get picked.
“So it has been about training hard and doing everything I can to give myself the best possible shot at selection and hopefully I have done that for Sunday.
“To play in the European Rugby Champions Cup is something every player wants to do and I came off the bench against Bath and obviously I would love to add to that against Montpellier.
“I wasn’t involved in the first game and that is a reflection of how hard it is to get a place in the front-row and that is a big plus for Gregor [Townsend] to have that intensity of competition for every place in the team.”
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