Hugh Blake and Sila Puafisi join Glasgow Warriors

Hugh Blake. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Hugh Blake. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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GUINNESS Pro12 champions Glasgow have signed Tonga prop Sila Puafisi from Gloucester and confirmed that new Scotland international Hugh Blake is joining them on a two-year deal.

Puafisi, a 27-year-old tighthead, has 16 caps for his country and made 35 appearances for the European Challenge Cup winners after moving to England in November 2013. He will join Warriors on a one-year deal after the World Cup.

New Zealand-born back-row forward Blake has extended his stay in Glasgow after making an impressive international debut against Ireland earlier this month.

The 22-year-old former New Zealand under-age international has been on loan from Edinburgh since March, after joining the capital side on a trial basis in December 2014. He finished the season as part of the national sevens set-up

Glasgow head coach Gregor Townsend said: “We’ve watched Sila for a while now and he has really impressed us.

“He’s been in good form for Tonga in the Pacific Nations Cup and will add to the competition we already have in our front-row next season.

“He played a lot of games for Gloucester last season both in the English Premiership and European Rugby Challenge Cup and we believe he has the all-round game that will fit in well at Scotstoun.”

He added: “Hugh will add to the depth in the squad and has the ability to play anywhere in the back-row. He is an intelligent rugby player who has a big future in the game. We look forward to both players joining us following their international commitments.”

Meanwhile, Edinburgh’s early-season roadshow will roll into Goldenacre this evening, where they will play their final warm-up match against Ulster (6:30pm kick-off). It is not the first time in recent seasons that the capital outfit have had to go walkabout in order to find a suitable home venue, but head coach Alan Solomons has remained resolute in his determination to view the frequent unavailability of Murrayfield in a positive light.

“There is nothing really to debate. Murrayfield is not available to us this weekend because the national side are playing, so we have to get an alternative pitch – and I have to say that this is a first class facility. The pitch is in absolutely excellent condition,” he said.

“We played down at Melrose last weekend, which took us to the Borders and gave us a chance to play in a really important part of our region. Now we are getting to take our game to a different part of Edinburgh and it will be interesting to see if we can get a decent crowd.”

Solomons has picked a squad of 33 players for tonight’s run-out, with Roddy Grant continuing as captain after scoring a hat-trick against Romania last weekend. New Zealander Nasi Manu is scheduled to make his first appearance for the club off the bench, fresh from co-captaining the Highlanders to Super Rugby glory at the start of July.

The players released from Vern Cotter’s World Cup training squad earlier this week (Allan Dell, Hamish Watson, Ben Toolis, Dougie Fife and Damian Hoyland) have also been named among the replacements.

Edinburgh will be at Meggetland next Friday night, when they play their first Pro12 match of the season against Leinster, because the Foo Fighters are performing at Murrayfield.

Edinburgh team: N McLennan; T Brown, C Dean, A Strauss, O Katoa; P Burleigh, N Fowles; G Shiells, N Cochrane, J Andress, A Bresler, F McKenzie, J Ritchie, R Grant, C Du Preez. Subs: J Hilterbrand, A Dell, C Bachurzewski, A Toolis, M Coman, S Kennedy, B Kinghorn, S Beard, G Turner, R Sutherland, B Toolis, M Bradbury, H Watson, N Manu, J Johnstone, D Fife, D Hoyland, J Cuthbert.