Dave Rennie warns Glasgow they can’t compete with big spenders

Departing coach says club must look to youth to fill gaps left by Finn Russell, Stuart Hogg and Jonny Gray

As Dave Rennie officially ends his time as Glasgow Warriors coach he has offered a realistic view of the club’s position in rugby’s pecking order. The New Zealander, who is taking over as national coach of Australia, frankly admits that the Scotstoun club cannot hang on to their star products, but takes an optimistic approach to the economic reality of the situation.

Even before the current Covid-19 crisis and the inevitable economic aftershocks, Glasgow have seen stand-off Finn Russell leave for Racing 92 and Stuart Hogg join Exeter Chiefs. Lock Jonny Gray is the latest to depart and will follow the full-back to the Devon club in another big-money move.

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“It’s something I’ve accepted over here, because it happens in New Zealand as well,” said Rennie. “We [in New Zealand] have players who get lured over to France and Japan because they can make massive money. So I understand the amount of money that Finn, Johnny and Stuart will get is miles in excess of what we paid them here.

“That’s why I’ve said before our job is to find good young guys coming through and try and accelerate their learning. That’s been the plan around Finn leaving, that’s been the plan around Adam Hastings.

“I think Adam’s going to be an excellent international player. He’s young and he’s still a little green but he’s really competitive and fit and is really working hard on developing his skills. He’s got a great work ethic.”

Rennie identified the likes of brothers Zander and Matt Fagerson, Tom Gordon, George Horne and Stafford McDowall as talents the Scotstoun faithful can enjoy seeing flourish when rugby resumes and added: “And maybe Scott Cummings becomes the new Jonny Gray.

“I think Scott has the potential to be a phenomenal international player. He’s a real point of difference with the second rows over here, he’s a great athlete, so deceptively quick. He’s really developed an edge to his play around the physicality. He’s a very smart man, very good lineout caller, very composed.

“So great players like the men we’ve talked about have left and you’ve got to find someone to fill the hole. I can’t see that changing to be honest, we can’t afford to keep someone like Hoggy and pay him the sort of money Exeter do.

“He deserves to get paid that sort of money and the advantage you have over here is they can still play for Scotland. If you’re a Kiwi and you come over this way, that’s the end of your All Black career.”

Rennie also pointed to the fact that many of the players who are lured to lucrative pastures new are often drawn back to Glasgow once their earning power has diminished. While no longer at their absolute peak, the Kiwi who now moves on to become Wallabies boss, believes these experienced returnees bring valuable input.

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Examples include Ruaridh Jackson, DTH van der Merwe, Niko Matalawa and Leone Nakarawa. On the latter, who is currently home in Fiji after coming back on a short-term deal following his release from Racing 92, Rennie said any decision on his Glasgow future was up to his replacement Danny Wilson.

“It has been the case with us, hasn’t it? I think it comes down to the culture,” said Rennie of the comeback kids.

“All those guys were keen to come back to Glasgow. They loved their time there and they’ve come back and contributed and I think that’s the key. You look at DTH, Niko, Ruaridh Jackson’s contribution since they’ve been back – massive.

“We’ve had guys who have left and were often talking about little things that they took for granted. I think it’s going to be a constant, in the end there will be some players you just can’t afford to keep and some of them are in high-profile positions.

“Someone like Zander Fagerson would be on the radar for a big club somewhere in the near future. He’s a phenomenal player. He’s only young but his scrummaging’s come a long way, he’s got a big engine, a massive work-rate and his brutality is first-rate around the tackle, clean, counter-ruck.

“He’s got a really good skill set and I think he’s just going to get better and better. Maybe he’s the next challenge to try and keep in Glasgow and Scotland.”

Reflecting generally on his three years in Scotland, Rennie said: “I’ve learned lots of stuff. That was the big goal coming up here – to experience a different culture, a different brand of footy and different conditions.

“I’ll treasure the time we’ve had up here, it’s been absolutely brilliant.”

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