Danny Wilson has his say on Edinburgh team selection, his faith in Glasgow youngster and link to All Blacks centre Malakai Fekitoa

Danny Wilson admitted to a degree of surprise in Edinburgh’s team selection, but the Glasgow Warriors coach still expects a searching test from the visitors at Scotstoun as his side begin their defence of the 1872 Cup.

Glasgow coach Danny Wilson has picked 14 of the 15 players who started in the win over Exeter Chiefs.  (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Glasgow coach Danny Wilson has picked 14 of the 15 players who started in the win over Exeter Chiefs. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Whereas Wilson is able to pick 14 of the starting XV which defeated Exeter Chiefs so impressively last weekend, his Edinburgh counterpart Mike Blair had made seven changes, most of them enforced.

Covid and injuries have conspired to deprive the visitors of a clutch of key players but Blair has also thrown in a couple of curveballs, most notably with the inclusion of Henry Pyrgos at scrum-half ahead of the benched Ben Vellacott.

Wilson knows and respects Pyrgos whose selection will likely see Edinburgh play a tighter game than has been the norm under Blair who is without Grant Gilchrist, Nick Haining, Blair Kinghorn, James Lang, WP Nel and Jamie Ritchie.

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“The two nines they have are different,” said Wilson. “Ben Vellacott has been a real running threat and has caused a lot of teams a lot of problems. Henry, I think, is under-rated – he’s been an outstanding player for Edinburgh, for Glasgow, for Scotland. I worked with him at Scotland and was extremely impressed with his game management. He has a very, very good kicking game and a very good understanding of the game generally.

“So it’s just different strengths. They might play a slightly different way with Henry - we’ll see. But both nines are good rugby players, so I don’t see a drop-off, just a different approach, probably.”

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Pyrgos will be partnered at half-back by Jaco van der Walt, with Charlie Savala dropping to the bench following his impressive performance in Edinburgh’s win over Saracens.

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Influential Glasgow stand-off Ross Thompson, right, pictured at training with Kyle Steyn and Cole Forbes. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

Glasgow stick with Ali Price and Ross Thompson at nine and ten and the halfback match-up promises a fascinating subplot.

Thompson’s development in the last 12 months has been pivotal to Glasgow’s revival and Wilson deserves praise for giving the stand-off his head.

“I have a huge amount of faith in him,” said the coach. “His debut was this game last year and he went about his business extremely well that day. Over the last two weeks he has played against two European giants – a finalist from last season and the winners from the year before. To go against that opposition in the manner he did... I think he is a really exciting prospect for the future.

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“His strongest attribute is how calm he is. He’s way beyond his years in that sense.”

Sione Tuipulotu is unavailable for Glasgow, a big loss for the Warriors, and his absence has necessitated a reshuffle in the backline, with Kyle Steyn moving in one to outside centre and Sebastian Cancelliere coming in on the wing.

Wilson, meanwhile, was giving little away on being linked with All Blacks centre Malakai Fekitoa who is expected to leave Wasps at the end of the season.

“I’ve got nothing on recruitment for you at the moment, but certainly a lot of conversations are going on,” said the coach. “I’m trying to be on top of the next stage of our recruitment as well as everything else at the moment and a few exciting conversations have been going on – but just conversations at the moment.”

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Glasgow Warriors (v Edinburgh Rugby, Scotstoun, Monday, 7pm): Josh McKay; Sebastian Cancelliere, Kyle Steyn, Sam Johnson, Cole Forbes; Ross Thompson, Ali Price (c); Jamie Bhatti, George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Richie Gray, Matt Fagerson, Rory Darge, Jack Dempsey.

Subs: Johnny Matthews, Oli Kebble, Murphy Walker, Kiran McDonald, Thomas Gordon, George Horne, Duncan Weir, Stafford McDowall.

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