SEAN LAMONT has admitted that he is expecting a real battle with Munster when the men from Limerick run-out at Scotstoun in this afternoon’s Guinness Pro12 clash with Glasgow.
The last time the two sides met, back in May, in the far West End of Glasgow, it was the Warriors who prevailed in an epic Pro12 play-off semi-final encounter by a 16-15 margin that reflected the fine lines that proved decisive in a confrontation of Herculean proportions.
Scotland wing Lamont was a late substitute in that encounter when he was forced to fill-in at flanker.
He has plenty of previous experience of the Munstermen and he had no hesitation in admitting this much anticipated reprise, against a side Lamont believes push the rules of the game to the absolute limit, will not be for the faint-hearted.
“We have had some very good battles with Munster over the last few years.
“They have done us by 50 and we have beaten them by 50, but the last two games were very close, very intense and we know what they bring and they know what we bring to the table,” admitted Lamont.
He continued: “They have some very smart rugby players who know how to push the rules, as do we, a wee bit, but we tend to get caught. They are a big physical side with some very powerful ball carriers.
“But I’m really looking forward to it and there is the possibility we could go top so it is a big game.”
Head coach Gregor Townsend has made ten changes from the side he fielded against Toulouse seven days ago, with Alex Dunbar, Stuart Hogg, Pat MacArthur and Sean Maitland all injured.
Yet the biggest surprise of all is the complete omission of stand-off Duncan Weir, who has been rested, after impressing when he came on against Toulouse last weekend in the European Rugby Champions Cup and contributed a six-point haul with the boot, while turning in a solid performance that almost helped Glasgow to a fighting draw.
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Lamont, who replaced Maitland on the right flank, say Glasgow are used to significant changes from game-to-game and believes it is a reflection of the quality and depth in the Glasgow squad that helps guard against complacency. The 33 year-old said: “With the squad we have and the depth we have, there are always going to be changes as guys need to get playing time but, if you look at our backline, it is an all-international set-up, so that underlines the depth we have in the squad and the quality of it.
“The guys who get the chance today will be determined to lay down a marker and that is a positive for Glasgow and, as well as the competition, we have a great team spirit at the club and these are very important things at any rugby club.
“Okay, it is not always the best thing playing one week and being dropped the next but what it does do is it keeps you sharp. If you are off the boil then you know that there are guys behind you pushing you hard. So it works well as complacency is a killer and there certainly is none of that at Glasgow due to the competition for places.”
When it came to singling out the Munster danger men who could ruin Glasgow’s bid to record three successive victories over the former European champions, Lamont was keen to highlight the menace of versatile back JJ Hanrahan, who has sparkled for Anthony Foley’s men in their two recent European Rugby Champions Cup meetings with Clermont Auvergne.
The Glasgow wing said: “We have a few guys who we know we will have to watch out for and Hanrahan is a talented boy who can step off both feet, but they have huge talent throughout the backline and you just can’t focus on one.
“They also have big ball carriers who will run at you all day long, so we know what we are going to come up against, having played them so many times before, we know what we have got to do.
“It will be a tough game and maybe not the prettiest but we know we need to get the win.”
In their two latest European outings, Munster have demonstrated a versatility of game plan that will challenge the Glasgow preparation to the full, with head coach Foley rotating between an expansive approach and a full-on frontal attack.
Lamont believes Glasgow are ready for their style challenge. “We will have to wait and see which style they play but we know it will be physical,” he added.
“The weather will also be a factor. Hopefully, it will be dry but this is winter rugby for you and it is the same for both teams.
“What we need to do is get the balance right.
“In the last two games, we have maybe tried to off-load too much and that has cost us, maybe forced a pass we should have held on to but we know the lessons we have to learn and what is coming at us and we will deal with it.”
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