Gregor Townsend is known for chopping and changing his starting XV more often than his underwear and the Glasgow coach isn’t about to change his ways.
Kiwi Nick Grigg, who makes his first start for Glasgow this evening when they play Cardiff away, is the most noticeable beneficiary. The compact centre sent Townsend his highlights tape on a hunch a while back and was rewarded with an academy contract last season which was upgraded to a full professional deal in time for the current campaign.
Grigg, who qualifies for Scotland through an Ayrshire grandfather, stands just 5ft 9in tall and he teams up in the Glasgow midfield with Peter Horne who isn’t very much bigger.
The diminutive duo must keep a lid on Cardiff’s Samoan powerhouse Rey Lee-Lo (5ft 11in and 98kg) and Welsh cap Cory Allen (6ft 3in and 99kg). If you wondered just how much size matters in the modern game then watch this space.
“We have full confidence in him,” said Townsend of Grigg. “What he does really well is tackle. He is a very good low tackler. He’s played two games for us.
“One was against Leinster off the bench last year and he did really well and Harlequins this year. He’s obviously not played that many games but from what we’ve seen he’ll cope very well.
“In terms of attack he runs well with the ball and has very good footwork. He’s been breaking his personal speed times at training in the last couple of weeks so he’s in the best shape to make the most of his opportunity. No one is going to get a chance of playing that doesn’t deserve it. We think he is going to help us win this week and we can’t wait to see him play and we can’t wait to see Mark [Bennett] being involved as well.”
Olympic silver medalist Bennett makes his first appearance of the season on the bench following his heroics in Rio; for all his faith in Grigg Townsend still has a Plan B. Both half-backs are changed, Rory Clegg taking over from Horne, and Henry Pyrgos makes way for Ali Price after suffering a knock to his knee. Lee Jones replaces Italian international Leonardo Sarto on the wing.
In the forwards Ryan Wilson fills the seven shirt to allow Josh Strauss his first game of the season at No 8 with Rob Harley retained at six.
With Simone Favaro and Chris Fusaro both injured, Glasgow are effectively starting two blindside flankers against Cardiff who are starting three sevens.
“The Welsh side are one of the most improved in the competition and Townsend knows why.
“They are very well coached,” he said of this evening’s opposition. “We rate Danny Wilson very highly. He was technical coach with Scarlets, I think he was the first to introduce standing off the lineouts a few years ago. The little bits of detail, defence, contact, organisation, they are good.
“They [Cardiff] have always had good individuals who maybe haven’t been available for them and these guys are now playing for them.
“They made some really good signings, Nick Williams being one, Willis Halaholo who is coming over in a few weeks’ time, Rey Lee-Lo, the Samoan centre, so they are a very dangerous team who are well coached.
“They are ambitious as well, so they aggressively play two opensides, sometimes three opensides, so they are going to look to turn us over at the breakdown.”