Ambitious Glasgow target ex-All Black Chris Masoe to add steel to back row

GLASGOW will look to tap into the “Todd Blackadder Effect” by bringing former All Blacks back row Chris Masoe to Scotland.

The 32-year-old captains Castres in the French Top 14, but he was in Glasgow earlier this month to look around the Scotstoun training facilities as part of Sean Lineen’s attempts to strengthen his squad. The Glasgow coach confirmed yesterday that Masoe is a target, and while he refused to discuss contract negotiations with any player, it remains a distinct possibility that his two most experienced back rows Johnnie Beattie and John Barclay will leave Glasgow this summer.

Both have yet to sign new contracts and so Lineen has moved to find an experienced back-rower to help develop the young talent, including Rob Harley, Ryan Wilson and Chris Fusaro, emerging at the Warriors. The Samoan-born Masoe has played in all three back row positions in 20 Tests for New Zealand and in club and provincial rugby, and has similar respect to that of Blackadder, who skippered the All Blacks before playing for and coaching Edinburgh.

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Lineen said: “I will not comment on contract discussions but Chris is a player we are very keen to bring here. He is one of several players I have been looking at, and as I understand it we are one of several clubs that he is considering moving to.

“He came here on a wet January day to see around and I was very impressed by him. The effect Todd Blackadder had on young Edinburgh back rows was huge and it is fair to say that I can envisage a similar effect if Chris was to come here. But we will have to wait and see what he chooses.”

Lineen was frustrated at seeing his side run Leinster all the way in yesterday’s penultimate Heineken Cup pool match, but still come away with no more than a losing bonus point with one away trip to Bath remaining.

“The campaign shows how much we’re coming on and also where we have to strengthen,” said Lineen. “In the past we would have been not satisfied but felt ‘well, that was the European champions and we’ll learn from that’, whereas the guys are now going ‘we could have, should have won that game’ and they’re bitterly disappointed.

“So there’s a mindset change there, aiming higher. The belief is there and the confidence is growing, and there is pressure now coming on individuals, which you need. We’re good, but these small margins are what make Leinster a champion team.”

Lineen fancies Leinster for the Heineken Cup, but warned against writing off Edinburgh, saying: “They [Leinster] are [good enough to win the Heineken Cup again], but Clermont and Toulouse will have something to say about that, Saracens as well, and don’t write off Edinburgh. They have done outstandingly well and it would be great for Scottish rugby if they could get through next week.”