It is only the third weekend of a long season but already injuries are having as big a say as Dave Rennie in the Glasgow Warriors’ selection. Rory Hughes is injured, the promising South African prop Oli Kebble may require surgery on his toe and skipper Ryan Wilson sits this one out with a neck strain.
Thankfully the team is boosted by the inclusion of one of their brace of British and Irish Lions, in the form of winger Tommy Seymour, who starts one game earlier than Rennie anticipated.
“I’m very happy,” said the coach. “He is a quality player and has a lot of experience. He gives a lot of voice in the backs so we’re excited to have him back in the mix.
“Initially we were going to have him come off the bench, with Leila Masaga starting. But Leila pulled up yesterday. The idea was to give Tommy 30 minutes to get a taste of things prior to Munster next week but he now has an opportunity to start which will be good.
“Obviously, he hasn’t had a lot of footy in the last few weeks but he has been training and he has really impressed. So I’m looking forward to seeing him out there.”
Henry Pyrgos replaces Wilson as skipper while the teenage flanker Matt Fagerson inherits the No 6 shirt. It is the only change in the forward pack that eventually wrestled the Ospreys into submission last Saturday. “I’m pretty confident Ryan will be back next week,” said Rennie. “He was pretty close for this game but we’ve got good depth in that position.
“We were really keen to give Oli [Kebble] a start and he’s not in the mix now. Tim Swinson plays his hundredth so we were keen to start him in this game. So we’ll certainly share the load and over the next two or three weeks we’ll make some rotations there but I’ve been pretty happy with the way they’ve been going so far.”
A spate of injuries to the wingers means that Niko Matawalu is named amongst the Glasgow replacements after several abortive seasons with first Bath and then Exeter Chiefs.
“He has been training very well,” said Rennie of the little Fijian. “The ideal scenario was that we would bring him in after a month. We have put a lot of time into him and we have a fair few injuries out wide so Niko gets his opportunity a little bit earlier than we thought but he is ready to go.”
Rennie, pictured, stated that Matawalu was a winger rather than scrummy for now, given the strength the club boasts at nine, where George is just one of two Hornes available to Rennie should he need them, the younger scrum-half sitting alongside his older brother Peter.
Nick Grigg comes in at 13 with Alex Dunbar switching to inside centre to accommodate him. Cardiff have lost their opening two league matches and last week they lost Lions skipper Sam Warburton to injury for several months.
“You underestimate any team in this competition at your peril,” said the Glasgow boss. “We’re well aware that they’ll be desperate and we’ve got a really long way to go to get our game right so we’ve worked really hard again this week.
“We know that Cardiff in Cardiff are a much stronger proposition and they’ve got a reasonably tough string of games coming up so we know they’ll be desperate and that we’ll need to be able to front up physically.”