Glasgow coach Danny Wilson has confirmed it could be well into December before Warriors fans get to see star forward Leone Nakarawa in club action as two weeks of self-isolation are followed by Fiji’s Autumn Nations Cup campaign.
The 32-year-old arrived back in Glasgow on Friday, delayed by a family bereavement, after being re-signed to the club following a short-term deal back at Scotstoun after his release from French giants and Heineken Champions Cup finalists Racing 92 last season.
Wilson said not having the 2015 Pro12 winner available for a while was not ideal. “It’s definitely a blow, no doubt about that. Timing has not been great on many fronts there,” said the coach, who is preparing Glasgow for their first game in the 2020-21 Guinness Pro14 season at Connacht on Saturday.
“We now have him back in the country but he has to go through an isolation period which really, if we are being honest, gets him fit and healthy to go into the Fiji camp.
“But the circumstances are understandable and these things can’t be helped. First and foremost is that we support him through a tough period. Now he is back he is looking to focus on rugby.
“We can’t properly have a conversation with him at the moment. It’s a case of getting him back in daily contact with myself, the conditioners. He is keen to get back into training and back onto a rugby field. There is no question about that. Fiji and Glasgow are keen for him to do so.”
Fiji start their Nations Cup pool matches against France on 15 November and face Scotland at BT Murrayfield on 28 November.
Glasgow had two games against Edinburgh when rugby resumed at the end of August, losing the first and winning the second, but it could be said that the Wilson era at the Warriors truly begins in Galway this weekend, albeit in the current difficult situation due to the restrictions brought on by the pandemic.
The Scots will stay overnight, confined to hotel rooms, on the Friday in the west of Ireland before flying back soon after the match. Of course, closer to home the surge of the virus in Glasgow itself has brought the need to be ultra-cautious into even sharper focus.
“We take it very seriously,” said Wilson. “It’s constant reminders about the world we’re living in at the moment and the regulations, which we stick rigidly to.
“It is very different times as we know and there are constant reminders from medical staff and coaching staff. We live in a pretty tight bubble in the environment, masks are on pretty much the whole time. You are very careful about what you do off the training field, on the training field you take some risks for that 40-50 minute period.
“But you have to. You have to scrummage, you have to lineout and those contact drills otherwise the boys aren’t prepared for games, so everything has a slight risk attached to it.
“The way they live their lives outside the training environment is obviously important, especially in Glasgow at the moment. We are constantly talking about making good decisions and not putting yourself at risk. It’s difficult as we know because you still have to get on with everyday life but you just mitigate it as much as you possibly can.”
Since their fairytale title triumph in 2016 Connacht have reverted back to their position as the fourth of the Irish provinces but Galway is never an easy place to go, particularly at the start of a season delayed by months of shutdown and challenges due to Covid-19.
“I think the first thing you need to be ready for is any weather conditions,” said Wilson, who was head coach at Cardiff Blues before becoming Scotland forwards coach and then replacing Dave Rennie at Glasgow.
“Whether that’s 40mph wind, or no wind, or pouring rain or bright sun. I’ve had it all. Everytime you go to Connacht is a different weather day. It’s quite an open pitch and does get hit by the conditions.
“The team itself plays quite a bit of rugby, they’re quite an expansive team. They’ve had mixed fortunes in their two games. The two red cards made the Munster game [a 49-20 loss in August] quite a difficult game to analyse because you’re watching them for the majority with 13 men. They played well and beat Ulster well in that first game [a 26-20 win for Andy Friend’s side].
“They’re a good side, well coached but as much as you’re dealing with the opposition you’re also dealing with the conditions you face on the day.”
A message from the Editor:
Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.
With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.
Subscribe to scotsman.com and enjoy unlimited access to Scottish news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.scotsman.com/subscriptions now to sign up.
Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.