Wilson will have to come off bench for his 50th appearance
THE shape of the Scotland team became clearer yesterday when the Glasgow and Edinburgh teams were named for their respective RaboDirect PRO12 matches tonight.
Glasgow supplied the bulk of the newcomers to Scotland’s training squad in St Andrews this week, and so, as expected, Peter Murchie, Tommy Seymour, Alex Dunbar, Peter Horne, Dougie Hall, John Barclay and Tom Ryder return to the side for tonight’s match against the Dragons at Scotstoun.
Of that group, Barclay, Ryder and Horne seem the most likely to still be in with a chance of making the Scotland squad, but, in the wake of Andy Robinson’s comment this week, that none of his starting XV based in Scotland would feature this weekend, they are contenders only for the bench.
Those not returning for Glasgow are Stuart Hogg, Sean Lamont, Ruaridh Jackson, Henry Pyrgos, Al Kellock and Ryan Grant, some of whom are in the frame to start against New Zealand and some for bench places.
Similarly, Edinburgh have eight players not released, namely Greig Laidlaw, Tim Visser, Nick De Luca, Matt Scott, Geoff Cross, Ross Ford, David Denton and Ross Rennie.
Glasgow are in a different place to their Scottish rivals, however, as they seek to claim a bit of history tonight by stretching their unbeaten run to six and establish a new club record for most consecutive league wins in one season.
That would turn up the pressure on league pacesetters Ulster and Scarlets, just four and three points ahead of third-placed Warriors respectively. Glasgow have Leinster at home later this month and then Munster away at the start of December.
Tonight, Glasgow coach Gregor Townsend hands a debut to Taylor Paris, on the wing, while Argentina prop German Araoz is also in line for his first involvement off the bench.
Ryan Wilson, who was unlucky to miss out on the Scotland squad after continuing his fine form this term, will celebrate his 50th appearance if he comes off the bench, and the side will be captained by his fellow back-rower Chris Fusaro, another player unlucky not to be in Robinson’s plans quite yet.
Troy Nathan makes his first start of the season at inside centre, with Dunbar moving to outside centre. Fijian scrum-half Niko Matawalu finally makes the switch to the No 9 jersey, after runs on the wing, and partners Scott Wight, the RaboDirect man of the match in the win over Treviso last weekend.
The other four changes come in the pack with Gordon Reid back, Tim Swinson pairing up with Ryder in the second row, Josh Strauss returning at No 8 and Fusaro in at openside Townsend commented: “As ever, there is a lot at stake in this match. First and foremost, we know we have to win to maintain our momentum in the RaboDirect PRO12 and consolidate our position in the table ahead of the November break.
“Considering we’ve had 13 players away with Scotland this week, we’ve been able to name another very strong side to tackle the Dragons.
“I’m excited about the potential of the half-back pairing of Niko and Scott, both of whom were excellent in Treviso, while Taylor has worked hard in training and in his games with Dundee and deserves an opportunity.
“Chris Fusaro is a great option for us to have as captain when Al Kellock isn’t available and our strength in depth in the back row is reflected both by the guys who are starting this week and those we have on the bench.
“I’ll be delighted for Ryan when he hits 50 appearances. He’s a great professional with a lot of potential, and a real asset for the club. With Friday night’s game not on TV, it would be terrific to have another big crowd behind us for what is a vital encounter.”
The Dragons have captain Lewis Evans back from a groin strain and full-back Dan Evans also returning after a thumb injury.
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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