Ross Thompson and Rory Darge backed to step up as Glasgow Warriors lose their Lions for Leinster

In the absence of their Lions, Glasgow Warriors will look to their young pups to take a leading role as they seek the victory over Leinster at Scotstoun tonight that would keep alive their hopes of reaching the Rainbow Cup final.

Rory Darge displays the footwork that has impressed Glasgow Warriors coach Danny Wilson. Picture: Ross MacDonald/SNS

Ali Price and Zander Fagerson drop out of the matchday 23 as they ready themselves to link up with Warren Gatland’s squad for the impending tour of South Africa.

It is a huge opportunity for the Lions pair, potentially career-defining, and Danny Wilson was happy for them to sit out the Leinster match. In any case, Fagerson was “a bit banged up” following the win over Dragons last weekend, reported the Glasgow coach.

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The experienced George Horne replaces Price at scrum-half, while Enrique Pieretto comes in for Fagerson at tighthead. The only other change in the starting XV sees Fraser Brown return at hooker, with George Turner dropping to the bench.

Ross Thompson has made rapid progress since his Glasgow Warriors debut in January. Picture: Ross MacDonald/SNS

As has become the norm, Wilson has included a number of his talented youngsters, with Cole Forbes, Ross Thompson and Rory Darge selected. The trio were called up by Scotland for the first time this week, reward for some fine performances in the second half of the season.

Darge in particular has caught the eye in recent weeks following his mid-season move from Edinburgh.

“He trained with the national squad earlier in the season to give him some experience and I know they are very impressed with him,” said Wilson.

“We’ve also been really impressed with him. He has huge potential. His footwork has been outstanding, there’s no other way to describe it. He’s not a massive man who’s bumping people, that’s not his style; his style is to use his footwork to get to the other side of the contact.

“On top of that he’s a really good defender, and we’ve seen him making two turnover jackals for us at the weekend and slowing a lot of ball down. So he’s a really exciting No.7 for the future.”

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Thompson, the Warriors stand-off, is another who has grown in stature as the season has worn on. He was man of the match on his first start for the club in the home win over Edinburgh in January and has maintained a level of performance which has his coach purring, the only blip coming in the defeat by Benetton in the Rainbow Cup opener.

“For a young kid coming out of the academy and not having been exposed to this level of rugby, it shows the calmness of the guy,” Wilson said of Thompson’s consistency.

“When you speak to him you can tell how calm and collected he is, which as a ten is a fundamentally important aspect of his game.

“But what I really like about him is his balance – we want and need to play a balanced game. That means that we have a running threat, but also recognise that it’s not run at all costs, but only when the back field opens up.”

The Leinster match is likely to mark the end of the road for a number of Glasgow players. Adam Hastings, D’arcy Rae and Niko Matawalu are all in line to play their last games for the club, should the Warriors fail to progress to the Rainbow Cup final.

Glasgow Warriors v Leinster, (Rainbow Cup, Scotstoun Stadium, Friday, 8.15pm)

Glasgow Warriors: Adam Hastings; Kyle Steyn, Nick Grigg, Sam Johnson, Cole Forbes; Ross Thompson, George Horne; Aki Seiuli, Fraser Brown, Enrique Pieretto, Rob Harley, Scott Cummings, Ryan Wilson, Rory Darge, Matt Fagerson.

Subs: George Turner, Tom Lambert, D’arcy Rae, Kiran McDonald, Thomas Gordon, Sean Kennedy, Stafford McDowall, Niko Matawalu.

Leinster: Hugo Keenan; Tommy O’Brien, Garry Ringrose, Rory O’Loughlin, Jimmy O’Brien; Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath; Ed Byrne, Rónan Kelleher, Michael Bent, Ross Molony, James Ryan, Josh Murphy Josh van der Flier, Calean Doris.

Subs: Dan Sheehan, Peter Dooley, Andrew Porter, Ryan Baird, Scott Penny, Rowan Osborne, Jordan Larmour, Cian Kelleher.

Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU)

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