Glasgow Warriors: Franco Smith dismisses significance of playing away and refuses to be drawn on Rory Sutherland link

Much has been made of Glasgow Warriors’ poor record on the road but Franco Smith tried to downplay the significance of playing away ahead of his side’s match against Ospreys in Swansea on Saturday.

Ali Price will make his first start of the season against Ospreys.  (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)
Ali Price will make his first start of the season against Ospreys. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

It is a bold call by the new coach and rather flies in the face of the statistical evidence. Glasgow won just two of ten away games in the United Rugby Championship last season compared to eight from nine at home.

There was no sign of an uplift in Smith’s first match in charge when the Warriors went down 33-11 to Benetton in Italy, a result he rather uncharitably attributed to the previous coaching regime.

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More encouraging was last week’s 52-24 thrashing of Cardiff at Scotstoun which has convinced Smith that if they can reproduce that level of performance on a regular basis it is largely irrelevant where the match is played.

Glasgow Warriors head coach Franco Smith has played down the significance of where games are staged. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
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“I think the players set the standard now,” said the South African. “For us it’s going to be important to concentrate and focus on processes and how we’re going to apply that rather than where we play.

“I think sometimes there’s too much emphasis on where we’re playing and who we’re playing against: I think the emphasis from now is absolutely on what we do, how we can get better. That process needs to be done in the right manner.

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“So we must not be affected by who the game is against and where it’s taking place.”

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Friday’s wild weather disrupted Glasgow’s travel plans but things should be calmer by kick off.

Smith has made five changes, including at scrum-half where Scotland and Lions No 9 Ali Price comes in for his first start of the season, replacing last week’s player of the match George Horne who hurt his back in the gym and was unable to train fully.

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Price takes over the captaincy from Kyle Steyn who misses out with a hamstring injury and is replaced on the wing by Rufus McLean, also making his first start of the season. There is also a first sighting for Sam Johnson who is preferred to Stafford McDowall at inside centre

There are two changes in the pack, both in the back row, with Thomas Gordon replacing the injured Rory Darge at openside and Gregor Brown coming in at blindside for Matt Fagerson who picked up a rib injury in midweek.

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Gordon did sterling work from the bench when he deputised for the stricken Darge against Cardiff and now has the chance to stake a claim in the longer term, with the Scotland flanker ruled out for “several months” with a serious ankle injury

“I definitely feel he played well,” said Smith of Gordon. “I think he fits the bill for that role at this stage – a bit of continuity in that regard will be good.”

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Josh McKay is close to making his return following a run-out in Super6 with Boroughmuir Bears last weekend. The wing/full-back, who underwent ankle surgery in the summer, has travelled to Wales with the squad but won’t be involved this weekend.

Smith refused to be drawn on reports linking Glasgow with Worcester Warriors prop Rory Sutherland

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“I think there is still a lot of uncertainty from their side, so for now I’m not going to comment,” said the coach.

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