Friday night lights are back for Glasgow Warriors as fans return after 18-month absence

Rugby on a Friday returns to Glasgow’s west end for one night only as the Warriors take on Newcastle Falcons in a pre-season friendly.

Sione Tuipulotu will make his Glasgow Warriors debut against Newcastle. Picture: Alan Harvey/SNS

It may be a non-competitive fixture but the game is freighted with significance for home supporters who will be attending a match at Scotstoun for the first time since February 2020.

Covid-19 kept them away for the whole of last season and the virus continues to cast a shadow, with Warriors coach Danny Wilson deprived of half a dozen players who are isolating.

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Wilson has named a 29-man squad for the match which will see Duncan Weir back in a Glasgow jersey after a five-and-a-half year gap. The popular stand-off returned to the club in the summer after spells at Edinburgh and Worcester Warriors and will start against Newcastle, with Sean Kennedy alongside him at scrum-half.

Duncan Weir is back at Glasgow Warriors after a five-and-a-half year absence. Picture: Ross MacDonald/SNS

Wilson said Weir had already made a significant impact, both on and off the pitch.

“His experience and leadership, his understanding of the game, bringing that experience into team meetings, [with] our younger players, tactical things, he’s been excellent,” said the coach. “On the field as well, he’s trained well and seems to be in a good place, so it will be great to get him out there.

“We know all his strengths - his goal-kicking, his game-management, he’s brave. All those things I’m sure we’ll see on show.”

Glasgow have been denied home games on Fridays in the new United Rugby Championship so this could be the only time this year that their supporters are able to watch the team on their favoured night.

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There is also a debut for Sione Tuipulotu who has been selected at outside centre. The Scottish-qualified back, who is comfortable on the wing or in midfield, moved to Glasgow from Japanese club Yamaha Jubilo in the close season.

In the pack, Murray McCallum starts at tighthead following his summer switch from Edinburgh and Lewis Bean is at lock after joining from Northampton Saints.

As with the rest of the country, coronavirus continues to disrupt preparations and Glasgow are carefully negotiating the various protocols

“A couple of boys have returned today,” said Wilson. “We have a couple of boys who are still in isolation. And there are a couple of others who are at the start of isolation. It’s around five or six who are currently affected by it.

“We don’t have many and we certainly don’t have an outbreak. A lot of it is close contacts, but we have to stick by the rules and make sure we return everyone safely and properly from that.”

Wilson expects to make a number of changes around the 50-minute mark but admitted to being in the dark about the strength of the opposition, with Newcastle also scheduled to play Doncaster on Saturday.

Glasgow have augmented their numbers by drafting in two players from Super6. The Stirling County winger Logan Trotter is named on the bench alongside the Ayrshire Bulls prop George Thornton who was released by Glasgow at the end of last season.

Glasgow Warriors (v Newcastle Falcons, Scotstoun, Friday 7pm)

15 Ollie Smith; 14 Rufus McLean, 13 Sione Tuipulotu, 12 Stafford McDowall, 11 Ratu Ragive; 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Sean Kennedy; 1 Tom Lambert, 2 Johnny Matthews, 3 Murray McCallum, 4 Lewis Bean, 5 Richie Gray, 6 Kiran McDonald, 7 Rory Darge, 8 Ryan Wilson.

Substitutes: George Thornton, Grant Stewart, Murphy Walker, Rob Harley, Max Williamson, Scott Cummings, Thomas Gordon, Rory Jackson, Jamie Dobie, Ross Thompson, Logan Trotter, Peter Horne, Finlay Callaghan, Cole Forbes.

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