SCOTLAND winger Rory Lamont will return to the Glasgow team in Italy on Sunday after a year spent recovering from a serious leg injury.
The 30-year-old suffered a broken leg playing for Scotland against France, and a series of expected returns have all been aborted as he struggled with a recurrence of pain. He has finally been passed fit to return, and it is welcome timing for Glasgow as they seek to maintain good RaboDirect PRO12 form while missing 14 players to Scotland and Scotland under-20s duty, and many still in the treatment room.
Scotland flanker John Barclay is also back in harness after two months out with a groin injury that wrecked his early Six Nations hopes, and both players are now hoping to revive their international ambitions before the Six Nations is over.
Coach Gregor Townsend has been forced into a sharp signing spree for hookers after Dougie Hall joined Fraser Gillies and Fraser Scott in being ruled out, and Pat MacArthur was called into the full Scotland squad to face Italy tomorrow.
Highly-rated Welsh prospect Gerwyn Price has signed as short-term Six Nations cover and is thrust straight into the side for Sunday’s RaboDirect PRO12 match away to Italians Zebre, while Heriot’s forward Fraser Brown is on the bench. For Brown, it is a welcome return to the pro game after his development stalled when he suffered a neck injury coming through the ranks at Edinburgh.
After reviving his enthusiasm for the game with a spell in Heriot’s back row, he has been given the chance to push again for a pro contract with the Warriors.
The other club talent added to the Glasgow squad this week was Kevin Bryce, who has also been a key figure in Heriot’s 1st XV in recent seasons, but he and Brown will only come into the squad when required and remain free to play for their club when not.
The Warriors are also missing Mike Cusack, Chris Cusiter, Chris Fusaro, Angus MacDonald, Tommy Seymour and DTH Van Der Merwe to injury, and are supplying 11 players to the Scotland squad and three more to the under-20s, but have still named a strong line-up for a match they need to win to keep ahead of Leinster, Ospreys, Scarlets and Munster in the race for a home play-off spot.
The victorious Scotland A captain Ryan Wilson takes over the lead role in Parma and props Jon Welsh, Ed Kalman and Ofa Fainga’anuku are all back from injury, the Tongan having extended his contract to the end of the season.
Glasgow coach Gregor Townsend said: “Obviously a lot of our players are involved with the Scotland set-up but the strength of the side we are able to field is a testament to the quality of players we have at the club.
“Having Jon, Ed and Ofa back really strengthens our front row options alongside Gordon Reid, who has been in excellent form in recent weeks, and the return of John Barclay and Rory Lamont from injury is also a real boost for us.
“Any game away in Italy is a real challenge and we have to make sure that we are sharp and ready for Zebre. ”
Scott Wight and Niko Matawalu take the half-back roles and young talents Sean Kennedy, Fraser Thomson and Finn Russell, the promising under-20 stand-off/centre, are all named on the bench.
“If Fraser, Finn and Ed all get game time in Parma, then that will mean 49 players have taken the field for us this season,” remarked Townsend. “That underlines the fact that you need to build a robust squad for the twin demands of playing in the Rabo Direct Pro 12 and the Heineken Cup.
“I’m also delighted that Ryan Wilson is able to captain the side for the first time. He has displayed leadership throughout this season and has produced a run of consistent performances.”
Glasgow Warriors v Zebre at Stadie XXV Aprile on Sunday. Kick-off at 2.05pm, live on BBC Alba
15 Peter Murchie
14 Rory Lamont
13 Alex Dunbar
12 Graeme Morrison
11 Byron McGuigan
10 Scott Wight
9 Niko Matawalu
1 Gordon Reid
2 Gerwyn Price
3 Jon Welsh
4 Tom Ryder
5 Tim Swinson
6 Josh Strauss
7 John Barclay
8 Ryan Wilson (capt)
F Brown, E Kalman, O Fainga’anuku, N Campbell, J Eddie, S Kennedy, F Russell, F Thomson