The second round of the weekend’s Scottish/Italian tussle sees Glasgow travel to Parma to take on Zebre in Parma this afternoon.
Gregor Townsend’s team are in second place in the league while their Italian opposition have yet to get off the mark, winless after 13 rounds of league matches with just six bonus points to their name. But, if that sounds like a banker for the visitors, it will be anything but. Italian rugby is on the up and both teams are almost unrecognisable thanks to Test call-ups. And Zebre pushed Glasgow mighty close at Scotstoun back in September. They also finished just two points shy of league leaders Ulster and the Ospreys beat them by one point in their last outing – in Swansea.
The Warriors will need to be at their best but at least they will field several players with a point to prove.The likes of Ryan Wilson, Jon Welsh, Tom Ryder, Chris Fusaro and perhaps even Graeme Morrison might all have hoped to be involved in the Scotland squad at Murrayfield yesterday. And John Barclay, right, making his return from injury, will hope to contribute when he is fit enough. Scotland coach Scott Johnson said he wanted continuity in the opening two Six Nations matches but, given the 15-day turnaround before Ireland’s visit two weeks today, the Aussie will not be afraid to make hard decisions.
He will need a new tighthead prop as Euan Murray refuses to play on Sundays for religious reasons. The Scotland bench boasts two tightheads in Moray Low and Geoff Cross and after playing him at No.3 for Scotland A against England, the powers that be seem intent on transforming Glasgow’s Jon Welsh into a tighthead as well. He’ll need game time after missing a large chunk of the season with injury. A good performance today in Glasgow colours could result in a three-way tug o’ war for Scotland’s No.3 shirt.
Glasgow team: 15 Peter Murchie; 14 Rory Lamont, 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Graeme Morrison, 11 Byron McGuigan; 10 Scott Wight, 9 Niko Matawalu; 8 Ryan Wilson (c), 7 John Barclay, 6 Josh Strauss; 5 Tim Swinson, 4 Tom Ryder; 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Gerwyn Price, 1 Gordon Reid. Subs: Fraser Brown, Ed Kalman, Ofa Fainga’anuku, Nick Campbell, James Eddie, Sean Kennedy, Finn Russell, Fraser Thomson.