Glasgow Warriors return to the scene of the crime but Franco Smith insists it's time to write a new chapter

Glasgow Warriors return to the scene of the crime on Saturday, looking to atone for the terrible defeat they suffered by Leinster at the end of last season which cost Danny Wilson his job.

Franco Smith during a Glasgow Warriors training session at Scotstoun. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)
Franco Smith during a Glasgow Warriors training session at Scotstoun. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

Franco Smith, Wilson’s successor as head coach, said talk of June’s 76-14 dismantling had been verboten this week and he is confident that the squad got it out of their system long ago. But a return to the RDS is sure to bring back some unpleasant memories for those who were involved in the URC quarter-final.

Asked if the players were motivated to right the wrong, Smith said: “Yeah, I’m sure that goes without saying. I think that was the motivation during pre-season for these guys. We specifically didn’t refer to that game this week. We’re trying to write our own story now. This is a new book – we’ve turned the page on that period. It’s going to be a different theme out there. We don’t want to carry the burden of that game with us.”

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Nevertheless, Leinster away is about as tough as it gets and Leo Cullen’s side are back on top of the table after seven wins from seven this season, the only unbeaten side in the URC. Glasgow, meanwhile, remain winless on the road in the league since beating Connacht back in January and travel to Dublin without a raft of rested international players. Zander and Matt Fagerson, Ali Price, Sione Tuipulotu played in all four autumn Tests for Scotland and sit this one out. In addition, Richie Gray is suspended. But Smith is able to call upon Fraser Brown, Murphy Walker, Jack Dempsey, George Horne and Jamie Bhatti who all played for Scotland in the autumn. It is an important period for Glasgow, with the URC games against Leinster and then Zebre followed by European matches and the festive double-header with Edinburgh and Smith knows he needs to manage his playing resources.

Jack Dempsey is back in the Glasgow Warriors team after Scotland duties. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)
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He will work closely with the Scotland camp and plans to meet with SRU performance director Jim Mallinder and Edinburgh coach Mike Blair next week to discuss their mutual needs, but he already has one eye on next year. “I'm going to try and make sure the players get at least two weeks’ break before the Six Nations,” said Smith. “Not just the Scotland players, but also the players who have been pulling their weight. We want to manage them and freshen them up as often as we can.

“From experience, this period of year is always the most difficult part. You have European cup games, you have derbies in the middle, it is Christmas, there are a lot of holidays. And it's cold, it's really, really cold. It gets more difficult to get out because of the weather so it is a very difficult time at a very important time to keep those players fresh, fit and ready for the Six Nations.”

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The Leinster game has come too early for Ryan Wilson and Huw Jones. Wilson hurt his knee against Benetton while Jones will travel to Dublin as 24th man and should be in a position to make his second Glasgow debut the following week after recovering from a back problem sustained with his former club, Harlequins.

Leinster v Glasgow Warriors (RDS Arena, Dublin, Saturday, 3.15pm. TV: Live on: Viaplay)

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Leinster: Jamie Osborne; Rob Russell, Liam Turner, Charlie Ngatai, Dave Kearney; Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath; Ed Byrne, Rónan Kelleher, Thomas Clarkson, Ross Molony, Joe McCarthy, Rhys Ruddock (c), Scott Penny, Max Deegan.

Replacements: John McKee, Michael Milne, Vakh Abdaladze, Jason Jenkins, Ryan Baird, Cormac Foley, Harry Byrne, Chris Cosgrave.

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Glasgow Warriors: Josh McKay; Sebastian Cancelliere, Kyle Steyn (c), Stafford McDowall, Rufus McLean; Tom Jordan, George Horne; Oli Kebble, Fraser Brown, Murphy Walker, Sintu Manjezi, Alex Samuel, Gregor Brown, Sione Vailanu, Jack Dempsey.

Replacements: Johnny Matthews, Jamie Bhatti, Simon Berghan, JP du Preez, Lewis Bean, Euan Ferrie, Jamie Dobie, Ross Thompson.

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Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (SARU).

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