Montpellier v Glasgow Warriors: Selection poser for Danny Wilson as Scotland players return

It wasn’t so long ago that Montpellier were pushing the boat out to make Vern Cotter the world’s highest paid rugby coach and Danny Wilson is under no illusions about the financial disparity between the French club and his own Glasgow Warriors side.

Things have become a little turbulent at the Altrad Stadium since Cotter’s departure and the team are currently 11th in the Top 14. But they enjoyed an impressive away win over league leaders Toulouse at the weekend and should be full of confidence when they host Glasgow in the last 16 of the European Challenge Cup on Friday evening.

Wilson is expecting a stiff test against a team bolstered by the return of three members of the France squad who lost to Scotland in such dramatic circumstances last Friday; inside centre Arthur Vincent, tighthead prop Mohamed Haouas and reserve full-back Anthony Bouthier.

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“They had a good win at the weekend against Toulouse - that’s a helluva win against a team at the top of the pile,” said Wilson.

Montpellier players celebrate their impressive win over French Top 14 leaders Toulouse at the weekend. Picture: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP via Getty Images

“You go through the Montpellier team, their budget and the money they would have spent on individuals and there’s some real quality there. They have firepower and we’re playing them away from home.

“It doesn’t feel like a Challenge Cup fixture. Away to Montpellier would usually be a Champions Cup tie. But there’s a reward of a quarter-final if we can get a win.”

The last-eight tie would be at home to either Benetton or Agen, quite an incentive for the Warriors who will welcome back their Scotland contingent for the trip to the Mediterranean coast. Wilson reported that all were in good spirits following their win in Paris and eager to notch up another victory in France.

The Glasgow coach now has to decide how many to reintegrate into his side after a youthful Warriors team won three of the last four matches of the Guinness Pro14 season to secure a fourth-place finish in Conference A.

Glasgow's young players such as Ross Thompson have impressed as the Warriors won three of their final Pro14 fixtures. Picture: Alan Harvey/SNS

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“We’re all about bringing the young guys through and using those opportunities to play them,” said Wilson. “We also, if we’re honest, haven’t had the other boys available to have to make those decisions. But we have now.

“I think our internationals have been available to us for five games all season. Maybe six. But that’s it. And some of them haven’t been fit.

“But we have that selection headache in a couple of positions now. And we’ll weigh up experience versus youth and other things like form.

“I feel defensively we still need to improve a little bit. So we’ll pick the right players so we can deliver on both sides of the ball.”

Cotter guided Montpellier to the Top 14 final in 2018 where they lost to Castres. The former Scotland coach was moved upstairs to become director of rugby before leaving to join Fiji. Xavier Garbajosa took on the coach’s job but he was sacked in January and replaced by France great Philippe Saint-Andre who is showing signs of reviving the club.

“It’s a huge challenge,” said Wilson. “If we can go there and get a win there is no reason why we can’t kick on but we have get the win first and it will be a big test.”

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