Callum Gibbins says that the current Glasgow Warriors team have a better understanding of what they need to do to win tight matches than the side which failed to deliver on their scintillating early-season form during the 2017-18 campaign. This, he believes, should stand them in good stead on Saturday evening when they will welcome the Scarlets to Scotstoun and look to banish the painful memory of the 13-28 defeat they suffered in last season’s Pro14 play-off semi-final.
“Last time we played them they gave us a bit of a hiding,” said the 30-year-old flanker. “You always want to remember how you lost. If you think back to the last Scarlets game and how it felt, we don’t want to feel like that again. So, while we won’t be focussing on it a lot, it will be in the back of most guys’ minds. It will certainly be at the back of my mind.
“They are a good team, they like playing a wide style of rugby – similar to ourselves – so we are going to have to fill the field in defence and really be good there.
“We started really well last season and we had a similar start this year, but I think we’ve been grinding out games a bit better,” he continued. “We are working harder for our wins this year. I think the way we approach games has changed. We are a lot more clinical with certain aspects we want to put on the field.
“We are making fewer errors this year. On the weekend, we had four handling errors, whereas last year, in most games, we were making well over ten. So we need that balance – we want to play attacking rugby, but we need to have the forward pack and the heavy lifting going well too.”
It has already been confirmed that the leading internationalists in the Warriors squad – likely to include Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Huw Jones, Alex Dunbar, Pete Horne, Adam Hastings, Ryan Wilson, Jonny Gray and Fraser Brown – are going to be rested this weekend after their exertions during the Autumn Tests.
The Scarlets will probably be in a similar boat – with hooker Ken Owens, scrum-half Gareth Davies and centres Hadleigh Parkes and Jonathan Davies among those in need of the break.
Gibbins says the squad welcome this opportunity to test and grow their strength in depth, and with two bonus point wins from the two matches they have played during November, they have gone pretty well so far.
“I really like this time of year because guys have had an opportunity to come into the team and they have been playing really well,” he said. “We want guys to put pressure on the internationalists.”