When he has swapped his studs for a pair of slippers Tommy Seymour will look back on April 2017 as his halcyon days. Last week he was selected to represent the British and Irish Lions against New Zealand in the summer and tonight he makes his 100th appearance for the club who effectively made him the player he is today.
What’s more, the habitual winger gets a rare chance to wear the No 15 shirt for the full 80 minutes against Leinster at the Royal Dublin Society Showgrounds.
“We have a lot of wingers back, fit, available, playing well,” explained Warriors coach Gregor Townsend. “We didn’t select Lee [Jones] in the last game, he has been excellent this season. Leo [Sarto] came back, played well, we would like to see him again. Tommy has always been an option for us in games to go to full-back and this week, not involving Stuart [Hogg], it gives us a chance to look at Tommy from the beginning at 15.”
It’s been a poor domestic season for Glasgow and while they retain a slender mathematical chance of sneaking into the Pro12 play-offs, Townsend made it clear that it was a statistical possibility rather than a realistic goal.
But while they will end up amongst the league’s also-rans their coach insisted that his team still had plenty to play for this evening, not least a first win at the RDS for this group of coaches before they move on.
“We would need the stars to align in a big way,” said Townsend. “We need Ulster and Ospreys to draw the following day and that is obviously unlikely. Our job is to go out there and win, that is all we can talk about this week. As a coaching group we have never won at Leinster. We have not won there in five years. We have drawn. We have lost by three points, by two points.
“We have always had really good games against Leinster at the RDS and we’d love, in the last time playing there as a coaching group, to come away with a win and obviously our players are really determined to do that.”
As Townsend suggested the Italian international Sarto starts on the right wing with the Selkirk speedster Jones filling the number 11 shirt. Sam Johnson and Nick Grigg occupy the centre slots with Peter Horne getting a start at stand-off, Finn Russell presumably rested ahead of next weekend’s 1872 Cup clash.
Up front Alex Allan and Sila Puafisi appear either side of Fraser Brown with Jonny Gray partnering Brian Alainu’uese in the second row. Tim Swinson, a lock by trade, brings his own physical approach to the No 6 shirt after returning to action having copped a red card and a four-week ban for a swinging arm against Connacht a month ago. Rob Harley backs up on the bench if that experiment proves unsuccessful. Chris Fusaro and Adam Ashe make up the other two thirds of the back row.
As Townsend alluded to, Glasgow have struggled against the twin Irish giants, Leinster and Munster, both Champions Cup semi-finalists who are two wins and several furlongs ahead of the rest of the chasing Pro12 pack.
At the start of this month Glasgow lost to a weakened Munster side at Cork’s Independence Park, so although Leinster are unrecognisable from the team that went down fighting against Clermont in the Champions Cup semi-final that is no guarantee of a Glasgow win tonight.
The home pack is meaty enough but the Leinster backline includes several unknown quantities including scrum-half Nick McCarthy and centres Tom Daly (no, a different Tom Daly) and Rory O’Loughlin. Adam Bryne on the right wing is one for the future and will keep Lee Jones honest all evening.
With just next weekend’s 1872 Cup standing between Townsend and his promotion to Scotland coach the focus inevitably turns to the summer when the national side have an exotic tour to Singapore, Sydney and Fiji, which will take place in tandem with the Lions doing their thing in New Zealand.
Is Townsend going to get frustrated if/when his best players are called up by Warren Gatland following the pile of broken bodies that usually litter the Lions’ wake?
“I’d be delighted,” he said. “It’ll be great and I think part of these next two games – but also the tour – is for our players to play as well as possible to get on that tour.
“It’s the ultimate. Many people say that playing for your country is the ultimate, but once every four years is something that extra bit special. We want to create an environment to create those opportunities so if there are injuries or call-ups it’s a Scotland player that goes.”