Lineen licking his lips over ‘trial’ match-upsin Murrayfield clash

WHILE his counterpart was trying to deflect attention from the “international trial” aspect of Monday’s 1872 Cup derby between Edinburgh and Glasgow, the Warriors coach Sean Lineen was happy to talk it up.

The former Scotland centre agreed with Michael Bradley that, if players go out on to the Murrayfield pitch on Boxing Day focusing purely on outshining their opposite number, their team would suffer but, when asked if he was happy that many viewed it as a version of the old Murrayfield trial, Lineen said: “Of course. It is a national trial in a lot of positions.

“Andy [Robinson] and all the other coaches will be there. There are also individual battles that the guys will be having, bragging rights if you like.

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“For us, most importantly, it is points in the league. But the players have been talking to each other, so you cannot hide from it.

“It is close and the guys know each other pretty well, and there is a [Scotland] squad get-together soon after it so they are just about all going to be at that as well.

“It doesn’t help from a team point of view, no, but there are so many individual battles going on which are fantastic. If the team becomes individuals who think they need to be a hero, then we will lose. You have to stay within the shape. You have to stay within your game.

“At the same time, of course, you want to know the strengths and weaknesses of your opposite number.”

Glasgow have claimed the 1872 Cup in three of the past four seasons and, striving to improve his side’s attack, Lineen has brought back Samoan wing David Lemi, who was ineligible for the Heineken Cup. Duncan Weir replaces Ruaridh Jackson at stand-off, Graeme Morrison and Rob Harley come in and Johnnie Beattie’s display in Montpellier has earned him another start at No 8.

Lineen is always full of anticipation and there are few presents to beat the excitement of two weeks of RaboDirect pro12 derbies for the Kiwi with Glasgow striving to consolidate their top four place.

He pointed to the various match-ups across the pitch, the fact that both clubs have shown good recent form and commented on the vibes in Glasgow that suggest as many as 5,000 supporters could make the trip to Murrayfield to cheer on the Warriors as all creating the potential for a uniquely memorable occasion.

“There have been some fantastic games, some really good match-ups in the past, and there are again this year,” he said. “You have Chris Paterson up against young Stuart Hogg – how good is that?

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“You have four wingers [Tim Visser v David Lemi and Lee Jones v Rory Lamont] who are all being talked about. Graeme Morrison v Nick De Luca.

“You have the stand-offs going for it, obviously the nines, Mike Blair against Chris Cusiter. David Denton against Robert Harley at blindside, John Barclay and Ross Rennie [opensides]. Young Grant Gilchrist, who I think is going really well, against Al Kellock or Richie Gray, the young Pat MacArthur, who is doing pretty well, up against Ross Ford who has been outstanding.

“You have Chunk [Allan Jacobsen] and Geoff Cross in the front row against Ryan Grant who has gone from Edinburgh to Glasgow.

“It is fantastic At the same time it is all about the teams and how they are playing, and not individuals.

“There has been a good buzz, here and at Murrayfield, support for the way we are playing and the results we have got both in the Rabo and the Heineken Cup. There is a bit of momentum there.

“Both teams have got themselves into a good place now to have a cracking double-header. That is where we are and they are going to be two very tight games.

“It will be great for the crowd. I know there are a lot of people coming through from Glasgow; massive numbers. These are games that matter.”