Dave Rennie says that he is thinking about Huw Jones as an option at full-back for Glasgow Warriors, as he looks to fill the giant gap left by the departure of Stuart Hogg to Exeter Chiefs this summer.
The club has not recruited an out-and-out No 15 to take over from Hogg with Rennie claiming that he has plenty of suitable candidates already in the squad.
Rauridh Jackson has tended to occupy the jersey when Hogg has been unavailable in recent seasons, Tommy Seymour is principally a winger but can also play full-back and Glenn Bryce (who is currently on a Scotland 7s contract) impressed when he started there in last Saturday’s friendly away to Ulster.
With Rennie spoiled for choices in the centre – where Pete Horne, Sam Johnson, Nick Grigg, Stafford McDowall, Kyle Steyn and Paddy Kelly are all vying for selection – the New Zealand coach also plans to have a look at Jones as a potential option at the back.
“We have talked about playing Huw Jones there because he really suits our style of game and we have a lot of really good midfielders. Huw is interested in that as well,” explained Rennie.
“We have some options,” he added. “We started Glenn Bryce last week and he played really well and has impressed us during the pre-season. He’s not too dissimilar to Hoggy – a really good skill-set and quick. He has gone great, he is in the running.
“Jacko has come back, he has had a little bit of a groin injury but is an option there; and we have used Tommy Seymour there and with the depth we have out wide, that is not a bad option.
Jones has struggled to find form under Rennie at Warriors during the last two seasons and his international standing has suffered. He has gone from being a near automatic choice for Scotland to missing out on the squad for the World Cup.
His only real chance of re-establishing himself for Scotland is in the centre so it doesn’t make sense for the 25-year-old to try to re-invent himself as an out-and-out full-back – but it is an option he is willing to experiment with as he looks to rediscover some of the mojo which characterised his first 18 months in the Scotland set-up, when he scored ten tries in 14 matches including a sensational double in the February 2018 Calcutta Cup victory over England.
Jones has been back with Glasgow since learning that he had missed out on the World Cup cut at the start of last week. He was rested for the team’s first pre-season run-out last Saturday but will be involved this coming weekend’s rematch against Ulster at Scotstoun. “In the end, he wants to cement the centre position and is disappointed to be back prior to the World Cup,” said Rennie.
“He has been great. He will start this week and can push for a starting spot against the Cheetahs.
“With Matt [Fagerson] and Huw, we offered them both a week off, coming back this week, but they were both keen to get back in and get their heads around things. That is credit to them. We were not going to use them last week but they will both get some game time this week.
“You have to put an arm round them.They are disappointed, but our job is to help them bounce back quickly. There could be injuries pre or during the World Cup and we want those guys playing really well so that if Gregor is looking for a replacement, he is looking at those boys.
“We are going to help them be the best option if somebody gets broken.”