Glasgow coach Dave Rennie said “a statement” had to be made as he dropped 11 of the starting XV who flopped in last weekend’s shock defeat by the Southern Kings.
The Kiwi insisted that he would have done the same even if this evening’s visitors to Scotstoun were Guinness Pro14 powerhouses rather than the weakest Welsh region, Dragons.
Only full-back Ruaridh Jackson, centre Huw Jones, tighthead D’arcy Rae and co-captain flanker Ryan Wilson survive from the Port Elizabeth debacle, where the Warriors slipped 31-0 behind before salvaging a try bonus point in a 38-28 loss that ended their winning start to the season.
Wing Tommy Seymour, centre Peter Horne, lock Greg Peterson, scrum-half Nick Frisby and prop Jamie Bhatti drop out of the squad completely, while hooker George Turner, centre Nick Grigg and flanker Chris Fusaro drop to the bench.
Back-rower Adam Ashe and wing DTH van der Merwe are ruled out with ankle and groin injuries respectively as the likes of wings Lee Jones, pictured, and Niko Matawalu, as well as co-captain Callum Gibbins and stand-off Adam Hastings are recalled.
Rennie was adamant that the axe would have been wielded no matter the opposition tonight.
“Yeah, you have to make a statement at times,” said the coach. “We had a poor performance [against Kings], especially the first 50 minutes. There have been changes for a variety of reasons.
“With some guys, we had already planned to rest them for this game because of their Scotland commitments. Some guys obviously have injuries and we were keen to get some fresh legs after the trip to Africa.
“But, absolutely, some decisions have been made around form and performance. We’ve had a good week; it helped to create an edge and the boys are keen for a bit of redemption. It’s good to be able to do that at home.”
Rennie admitted there had been some “brutal one-on-ones” in the wake of last week’s loss but leapt to the defence of players such as Peter Horne, Frisby and Peterson, who have borne the brunt of the fans’ social media backlash in the past week.
On Frisby, the Australia international scrum-half who had a game to forget in Port Elizabeth, Rennie said: “I’m not concerned. I thought he was pretty good in the pre-season and he was very good off the bench against Connacht.
“We’ve got good depth at nine. He was disappointed with the way he went. He’s a really good player. He misses out this week but he will probably be back in the mix next week. Ali [Price] played really well and that’s the reason for the selection.”
Rennie added: “[Peter Horne] is such a professional and really tough on himself. He does not have to worry about what social media or anyone else is saying about his performance.
“We are always planning to rest Pete here and I know he feels he would love to be back out there just for a chance at redemption. He is an outstanding player, a really important part of our team. I have confidence in him, he will probably be back in the mix next week.”
American lock Peterson will turn out for Currie in the Tennent’s Premiership today and Rennie said: “Greg is no different to the other guys who aren’t playing this week. He worked really hard and there’s a lot of attention to detail around our lineout stuff.
“He went in really clear on what was expected, but like a few others we just needed a bit more physicality from him and some urgency around some key stuff. Sometimes you’re trying hard when you’ve waited a while for an opportunity and you put yourself under a bit of pressure.”
Of the squad as a whole, Rennie indicated that he expected a positive response this evening. “They are all good men and they are all desperate to impress,” he said.
“In the end, we weren’t happy with the workrate, which comes down to effort, doesn’t it? You put yourself in a position to carry, make a tackle and do what you are meant to do.
“There have been some pretty brutal one-on-ones. For any player that wasn’t aware they didn’t play well, they know now. We have chosen this side accordingly and we think will get a response.”