Glasgow Warriors hand duo their first starts - Danny Wilson explains decision for Benetton clash

Danny Wilson has handed Argentinean stand-off Domingo Miotti and Tongan winger Walter Fifita their first starts for Glasgow Warriors in tonight’s United Rugby Championship clash against Benetton at Scotstoun.

Ratu Tagive during a Glasgow Warriors training session at Scotstoun Stadium, on February 15, 2022.
Ratu Tagive during a Glasgow Warriors training session at Scotstoun Stadium, on February 15, 2022.

“Both guys have been really patient, they have come off the bench for us in previous games, and we feel that they’ve both earned an opportunity,” explained the head coach. “They’ve worked really hard in training even when they’ve not been selected, and they’ve shown a great attitude.

“We’ve seen glimpses of them both off the bench,” he added. “With Walter, we know he can be a really destructive, powerful presence with ball in hand. He’s worked really hard on his game-management in terms of backfield positioning and defensive roles and so on.

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“Likewise, Domingo has shown some really exciting play and he’s got a good kicking game.

“It’s a strong team for us – and it needs to be strong going up against a good Benetton team who have caused us problems in the past.”

Wilson has made one other change to the backline he sent out for last Friday’s gritty home win over Munster with Kyle Steyn being released from Scotland’s Six Nations training camp to take over from Robbie Fergusson at outside-centre.

Meanwhile, there is only one change to the pack, with Kiran McDonald selected in the second-row in place of Scott Cummings, who has picked up a lower leg injury which appears certain to derail any hopes he was harbouring of forcing his way back into the Scotland side for next Saturday’s Murrayfield match against France.

“We’ll wait and see how he progresses over the next few days,” explained Wilson. “I’d say that [a Scotland recall] is very unlikely with the injury. I can’t see him being available for next week. But hopefully it’s just a short-term thing."

Wilson also revealed that loose-head prop Jamie Bhatti faces another two to three weeks out with a hand injury which rules him out of a recall to the Scotland squad next week in place of Rory Sutherland, who injured his ribs against Wales.

That means Oli Kebble, who starts in the No 1 jersey for Glasgow this evening, looks the best bet to be called up by national head coach Gregor Townsend next week.

“He’s got to stay focused on backing up last week’s performance when I thought he played really well – one of the best performances I’ve seen from him,” said Wilson. “If he can show that form again, I think he puts himself right in the mix.”

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Other notable injury absentees for Glasgow Warriors are full-back Josh McKay (ankle) and back-five forward Rob Harley (calf).

“Josh isn’t far off, another couple of weeks,” explained Wilson. “We wanted to make sure we didn’t rush him back and Ollie Smith has been doing really well at 15, so it is great to see that from a young Scottish player.

“Rob was a minor one but when he came back, he tweaked it again, so we had to reassess it and give it a little bit longer to make sure he was right. He should be available for the next game.”

Warriors start the weekend ranked third in the United Rugby Championship table, just behind Leinster on points difference, while Benetton are eighth, but the Italians have triumphed the last two times these sides have met.

Glasgow Warriors team to play Benetton, Scotstoun Stadium, 7.35pm, live on Premier Sports: Ollie Smith; Walter Fifita, Kyle Steyn, Sam Johnson, Rufus McLean; Domingo Miotti, George Horne; Oli Kebble, Fraser Brown, Simon Berghan, Kiran McDonald, Richie Gray, Ryan Wilson, Thomas Gordon, Jack Dempsey. Replacements: Johnny Matthews, Nathan McBeth, Enrique Pieretto, Lewis Bean, Ally Miller, Jamie Dobie, Ross Thompson, Stafford McDowall.

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