Ali Price transfer: Everitt and Smith have say, Edinburgh want permanent deal, Glasgow Warriors 'have couple of cards hidden away'
Price’s surprise inter-city switch was announced on Thursday and the player could now play against his parent club in next month’s 1872 Cup matches. Edinburgh, meanwhile, will consider signing the British and Irish Lion if the loan spell goes well. Price, 30, is out of contract at the end of the current campaign.
As one of three international nines on the books at Glasgow, he struggled for game time last season, starting just eight times under Smith who preferred George Horne as his first-choice scrum-half and also utilised Jamie Dobie. Price subsequently lost his place in the national side to Ben White for the Six Nations and the Rugby World Cup, although he did win it back for Scotland’s final match of the tournament in France, against Ireland.
In sanctioning the loan deal, Glasgow announced it was “in the national interest” and Smith said he was looking beyond the needs of his own club although he hoped everyone would benefit. “We are disappointed to lose him, especially from my side, but there’s a big picture,” said the coach. “I’ve been selling a big picture to Scottish Rugby for a long time and it was an important move.”
Asked if he wanted Price to leave, Smith was unequivocal. “No, obviously not,” he replied. “He’s a good player and he’s been here for a long time. But it’s understandable with everything taken into account. It’s a good decision in the end and we will stand by that – everyone must benefit from this.”
Price, 30, looked set to embark on his tenth season with Glasgow Warriors after returning from the World Cup but is now likely to line up against them when Edinburgh play at Scotstoun on December 22 and Murrayfield eight days later. “I don’t mind him playing against us,” added Smith. “I think the reason he left doesn’t determine who he plays against. It doesn’t matter.”
The Glasgow coach sidestepped a question on whether freeing up Price’s wages would help him bolster the Warriors squad, and in particular allow him to sign another stand-off, an area in which the club is short following Domingo Miotti’s departure to Oyonnax.
“I’m not going to confirm or deny anything in that regard,” said Smith. “For now, the squad is in a good position. We have a couple of cards hidden away that we can play at the right time. We’ll see how the season goes and see where they are needed.”
Edinburgh had already signed one international scrum-half for the new season in Scott Steele who is currently injured but the club’s head coach, Sean Everitt, said they remained light at nine.
“In our squad we were always a scrum-half short, and obviously with the injury to Scotty Steele, the length of which is unbeknown to us at this stage, we obviously needed a nine,” said Everitt. “Each squad of 45 needs four scrum-halves. At this stage we’ve only got two senior scrum-halves that are available to play - Ben Vellacott and Charlie Shiel - if something happened to them we would be in a spot of bother as far as senior scrum-halves are concerned.
“It was our wish to have someone within the Scottish set-up and we were just fortunate that Ali was the one that agreed to come on loan with us.”
Price won’t be involved in Saturday’s home game against Connacht as he recovers from a groin strain but should be available for the match against the Bulls on Friday. Everitt said he was open to the idea of extending Price’s stay beyond the end of the season. “At the moment he’s on loan but if Glasgow agree that we can keep him, and we see that he can add value and quality to our group going forward, then definitely there will be a discussion to keep him,” said Everitt.
Meanwhile, Charlie Savala, Edinburgh's Scottish-qualified Australian-born stand-off, has joined Northampton Saints on a short-term loan deal.
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