Hooker Grant Stewart steps into injury breach for Glasgow in 1872 Cup

As I understand it, the rules of karma require someone to win every time someone else loses and that is undoubtedly true of professional rugby. It's been open season on Glasgow hookers these last few weeks, with Fraser Brown the first to injure his knee against Lyon in France before his back-up, George Turner, hurt his ankle in the return leg at Scotstoun.

Warriors coach Dave Rennie said he was hopeful of getting Turner back on to the field asap but as the hooker was still sporting a moon boot and crutches this week so, unless it was a fashion statement, hope of his playing against Edinburgh tomorrow seems fanciful at best.

Grant Stewart replaced Turner last Saturday and the same man should fill the same role tomorrow; the first ever appearance at Murrayfield for the player who was enjoying second team club rugby just three years back.

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Stewart, pictured, who signed his first professional contract with Glasgow yesterday, said: “I’m looking forward to that (starting). It’s a good chance to show what I can do hopefully and keep sticking in for chances later on in the season as well.

Glasgow Warriors hooker Grant Stewart is expected to start against Edinburgh. Picture: Ross MacDonald/SNS/SRU

“I’m not sure how long George is out for but, hopefully, I can just play every game I can. I’ve definitely got to just take my chance and show the coaches what I can do.”

If the misfortune of others have opened this door for Stewart the same can usually be said of someone in almost any rugby team. Edinburgh are missing centres Matt Scott and Mark Bennett, with Chris Dean and James Johnstone taking their chance.

Edinburgh flanker Jamie Ritchie would probably not have emerged as a genuine international in the November Tests had John Barclay, Magnus Bradbury and Lewis Carmichael been fit.

At the other end of the M8, injuries to midfielders Sam Johnson and Alex Dunbar, opened the door for Stafford McDowall last weekend. If Rory Hughes had been fit Niko Matawalu might not have been in the starting XV to score the two first-half tries last weekend which helped beat Lyon.

In fairness, Stewart, who will leave the Scottish Rugby Academy next month and has committed to Glasgow until 2020, has already had one start for the Warriors, an impressive showing against Munster at Thomond Park when only a penalty with the last kick of the game denied Glasgow a famous win. The hooker has also made three Pro14 appearances off the bench, in addition to his replacement performance in the Champions Cup against Lyon, coming on immediately before the half-time break.

Stewart jokes that he stayed in the mauls purely because it was the warmest place Scotstoun had to offer last Saturday and he would have been joined by most of the crowd had they only known.

The 23 year old made a eye catching 11 tackles in that second half and carried an impressive nine times. If he can nail his arrows (Glasgow lost three throws over the 80 minutes in admittedly appalling conditions) Stewart will be a contender.

Should that happen, he will have Finlay Gillies to thank. Gillies was his coach at Glasgow Hawks and was on the Warriors’ roster when Stewart was coming through the academy. Stewart said: “I can’t thank him enough for helping me out when I was there. He took me under his wing with the throwing which was a struggle of mine and gave me the confidence just to play.

“He just gave me some tips and I did a lot of practising during pre-season. Every training session we’d do some one-to-one practice and he helped me out a lot.”

Glasgow’s forwards face a daunting task on Saturday, none more so than Stewart who goes head to head with Edinburgh skipper Stuart McInally, a shoo-in for the Scotland shirt and one of the form hookers in world rugby.

“It’s exciting,” says Stewart. “He’s kind of the man at the moment, so I just want to show I can compete with him and the rest of them.”