Dave Rennie knew the deal when he agreed to take over as Glasgow Warriors coach but perhaps didn’t quite expect a situation like this weekend where his resources would be quite so stretched.
The Scottish pro-teams are, of course, subservient to the national team but tomorrow’s Test against Wales comes outside the international window which means an even greater number than usual have been retained by Scotland.
Rennie was making no complaints yesterday, however, after naming his team to face Ospreys in Swansea tonight. In fairness, the Kiwi is able to call on some significant experience in the form of players such as Rob Harley, DTH Van der Merwe, Ruaridh Jackson and skipper Callum Gibbins.
“We are well aware that during international weeks it’s going to be a little bit thinner,” said Rennie. “We’ve got good depth and we’ve got a good side on the field.
“Look, part of our role here is for Scottish rugby. We want as many players as possible playing international footy, so it’s great from a club point of view and it always gives an opportunity for others to put them under a bit of pressure, so we’re happy.”
Rennie is viewing the upcoming period as part of the natural cycle and is looking forward to seeing some youngsters put their hands up, as well as a first start for American No 8 Tevita Tameilau.
“When you look back to this time last year there were guys like George Horne and Adam Hastings who have now gone on to international footy, so there are a few young guys,” he said. “Obviously [centre] Stafford McDowall, who got 60-odd minutes last week. We were always planning to play him in this game, so the fact that he’s got a fair bit of time against Munster last week is great.
“When you look at it, Tevita Tameilau, it’s nice to give him a start. He’s got a real difference and we’ve got a couple of young guys who will come in to the mix and get a sniff off the bench, but there’s still a fair bit of experience around them.”
Rennie believes Tameilau can bring something similar to the Glasgow pack that Fijian Bill Mata offers at Edinburgh.
“He’s a strong ball carrier, a destructive defender and he has really good skills, he’s got lovely hands,” said the coach.
“So, he’s something a little bit different. That’s what excited us about him and our focus has been getting him into the sort of condition to play the type of game we like to play.
“To his credit he’s worked really hard and put in some really good shifts so he’s ready to go. I can see some similarities there [with Mata].”
Rennie is philosophical about the fact a big game away to Conference A rivals has fallen on this weekend.
“You’ve got to play someone don’t you and I’m not sure how the draw’s done, but obviously with Scotland and Wales having an additional game it’s going to have a bit of impact,” he said.
“It is what it is. Generally, the Scottish and Italian sides are hurt most because you’ve got two sides providing the national team, while Wales and Ireland are not hurt quite as much with four sides, but we haven’t talked at any stage this week about who’s missing, our focus is on who’s here.
“We’re not looking for excuses. We’re going to put a good side on the field and if we play with the right intensity and are clinical then we put ourselves in good shape to win.”