Oli Kebble joined Glasgow Warriors from his native South Africa in the summer of 2017, so he is not technically a new player, but the disjointed nature of his injury-ravaged first year at the club means that it does feel like he is part of the reinforcements required for Dave Rennie’s men to go from a side of undoubted potential to serious competitors against the best Europe has to offer.
At 6ft 3in and 19½st, the prop has the physical dimensions to be a really valuable asset as the Warriors seek to go toe-to-toe with the big beasts of the Champions Cup this year – starting out against Saracens a week on Sunday.
Kebble, pictured, missed the Warriors’ slip-up against the Southern Kings with concussion but has started the team’s other four games this season, which means he has already achieved double the number of starts he managed in 2017-18 when a combination of foot and ankle injuries meant he sat out the big games in Europe and the Pro14 play-off defeat by Scarlets.
He scored the team’s opening try in their bonus-point win over the Dragons last Saturday, and is clearly feeling good about himself and his team’s prospects, stating that he firmly believes that there is enough grunt in the Warriors pack to match the likes of Saracens in do-or-die encounters.
“Any pack can if they believe they can,” he said. “We’ve got some really world class forwards here and if we just put emphasis on dominating up-front then I think, like we’ve shown already, we can do that. We’ve worked hard on it in pre-season, it’s a team effort, it’s a pack effort.
“We said at the start of pre-season we want to lay down a marker and show that a Scottish pack can hold its ground and put a step forward in Europe. All the boys have put some hard work in and it’s starting to show. It will be interesting to see what happens over the coming weeks.”
Kebble points to Glasgow’s home performance against Munster in early September, when they earned a 25-10 win, as evidence of the progress which has been made.
“Every day we try to re-affirm what our core values are as a pack and it was good to show it against Munster,” he explained. “Traditionally, they have had a really strong pack so to show that in front of our fans was really special. But it doesn’t stop just doing it once, we’ve got to do it week-in and week-out to really build on that.
“We’ve just put more of a focus on wanting to dominate up-front and we’ve put a lot of work in to that during pre-season. It is similar personnel to last year, but we’ve empowered the pack a lot more.”