Glasgow Warriors go into tonight’s Guinness Pro14 clash with Cardiff Blues looking to make it ten league wins in a row and head coach Dave Rennie wants returning internationalists Henry Pyrgos and Pete Horne to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
Last Sunday the young half-back pairing of George Horne and Adam Hastings did their growing reputations no harm at all by guiding the Warriors to league win No 9 of 2017-18 as they thumped the Ospreys 47-6 in Wales.
However, for this clash against the Blues at Scotstoun, Rennie has opted for more experience in the key positions, with Pyrgos and Horne senior at nine and ten respectively.
“The young guys did well last week, they have certainly put pressure on and we want to create competition. However, Henry and Pete have a chance to stamp their authority on this match,” Rennie said, with one eye on next week’s European Champions Cup.
“After that we will see who will be in the mix for Montpellier, but we are certainly very happy with our strength in depth in that area of the field.”
Alex Dunbar has recovered from the head knock that kept him out of the Scotland-Australia match to start at outside centre while Ryan Wilson slots back in at No 8 for the Conference A leaders.
Wilson is not reinstated as skipper just yet, though, with fellow back-row Callum Gibbins keeping that honour.
Rennie explained: “Ryan is keen to get back out on the pitch, but from a captaincy point of view we have decided to stick with Callum this week.
“To be honest our whole leadership group is the same as it was for the Ospreys game for continuity so the guys who have come back in from Scotland and elsewhere can get their heads around our structures again and get stuck into their individual role rather than organising everyone else.”
Loosehead prop Jamie Bhatti is amongst the replacements after his Scotland heroics, as is utility back Niko Matawalu after Fiji duties.
Rennie expects a big impact from Tongan international tighthead prop Siua Halanukonuka in his first home game.
“Siua has just come over from a season with the Highlanders and Tasman in the NPC,” Rennie said. “He’s a Tongan international but he started late – he’s only been playing professional rugby for the last three years. He’s a very powerful scrummager who can play both sides [at loose or tighthead].
“He’s pretty handy with the ball in hand and he’s very destructive around the park. He’s settled in, although he had an injury that kept him out of a bit of footy and he’s working his way back to the sort of conditioning we need him to be in.
“He made a pretty big statement in the first scrum last week when he came on for his debut against the Ospreys so we hope for more of the same.
“This week we haven’t talked about making it ten league wins in a row at all, we’re just trying to get better every week.
“What we were pleased about last week was that we were missing a lot of guys, but we never really talked about that during the week. It was just about guys stepping up and performing, so we’re finding out a lot more about some of our young men. We’re starting to create genuine depth and hopefully that competition for places will help us.”
The Blues are fourth in Conference A and defeated Connacht 36-30 last time out.
Gareth Anscombe will captain the Blues for the first time as he lines up at full-back. The Welsh international is one of five changes from last week and takes the No 15 jersey following injuries to Matthew Morgan, Rhun Williams and Dan Fish.
Winger Blaine Scully returns from international duty with USA while three changes are made to the pack, with Josh Turnbull returning to the back-row and Brad Thyer and Kirby Myhill coming into the front-row.