Glasgow coach Dave Rennie has chosen not to risk full-back Stuart Hogg for this afternoon’s clash with Cheetahs but expects the Scotland star to be fine for next week’s second game in South Africa against Southern Kings.
Hogg hobbled off near the end of last Friday’s 25-10 win over Munster at Scotstoun but was still included in the 29-man squad which flew to Johannesburg.
“I guess we could have pushed it to get him out there, but there’s just too much footy left in the season to even risk that,” said Rennie yesterday after naming his team. “We anticipate that he will be right next week.
“It’s the niggle he got in the [Munster] game. It’s just a bit of ankle issue, but it’s minor. We expect him to be back in training next week.”
Hogg’s absence gives Ruaridh Jackson his first taste of Guinness Pro14 action this season as he takes the No 15 jersey he occupied for a large part of last season due to the first-choice man’s injuries and international commitments. Rennie added: “It’s good for Ruaridh to get a start, he hasn’t stripped for the first two games and he was one of our best players last year, no doubt.
“But we’ve had our pound of flesh out of Hoggy this season, he’s played a couple more than he played this time last year. We’re fortunate to have such good depth there. Ruaridh’s still been a great contributor in regard all our preparation this last couple of weeks and he’ll slot in seamlessly.”
The Kiwi coach has made just one change to the pack which dominated Munster, with Scott Cummings starting at lock and Rob Harley moving to the blindside flank due to co-captain Ryan Wilson sustaining a knee injury last week.
Behind the scrum, Ali Price comes back into the starting line-up for the first time since relinquishing the No 9 jersey to George Horne at the end of last season.
Rennie has been on record as saying Price returned from Six Nations duty out of shape and let his form slip earlier this year but is looking forward to seeing him grasp his opportunity today, with both Horne and Nick Frisby on the bench.
“Ali’s in great nick, really fit and really lean. We’re really happy with him,” said Rennie. “The reason we have two half-backs [scrum-halves] on the bench is because we had a bit of sickness and then injury which affected our plans around the bench. Fortunately, George is reasonably quick so he can play wing as well as 9, and Nick Frisby can play nine, ten and 15. It may be a bit unusual, but all the backs still standing on tour are in the mix this week.”
Glasgow flew down to Bloemfontein from their Johannesburg base yesterday and Rennie expanded on the minor sickness issue.
“It’s just a bit of illness. Some guys have kids who pick up bugs at school, that sort of thing,” said the coach.
“We are very mindful about that sort of stuff and the medics have done a good job containing it. It was only Nick [Grigg] and Ryan who were crocked, and they’ve been rooming together ever since. Everyone else is in good health.”
There should also be a first sighting this season of centre Huw Jones, who is on the bench in support of starting duo Peter Horne and Alex Dunbar, back in the country where he forged his professional rugby career with Western Province.
Warriors fans will be hoping this season sees the explosive midfielder replicate his Scotland form at club level, something which didn’t really happen after his mid-season arrival at Scotstoun last year.
“He’s looking really sharp,” said Rennie. “Our intention initially was not to include him this week, try to get a bit more work in and then come in next week. But with Nick’s illness and Hoggy out as well we have him on the bench, but he’s ready to go. He’ll be grateful for any game time.
“I’ve been really impressed with Huw, he’s worked really hard, certainly in areas we felt he needed to make some shifts in and so we’ll be keen to see how he goes in the next couple of weeks.”