Sione Tuipulotu v Mark Bennett is sub-plot as Glasgow Warriors take on Edinburgh in 1872 Cup

Having had a taste of Test rugby this season, Sione Tuipulotu is hungry for more and the Glasgow Warriors man will be up against one of his main rivals for the Scotland No 13 jersey in Saturday’s 1872 Cup match at BT Murrayfield.

Sione Tuipulotu has enjoyed an impressive first season with Glasgow Warriors.  (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)
Sione Tuipulotu has enjoyed an impressive first season with Glasgow Warriors. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

Mark Bennett has been outstanding for Edinburgh this season, enjoying a renaissance that has seen him return to the international side after an absence of almost four years.

Chris Harris has been Gregor Townsend’s preferred option at 13 in recent seasons but it would be no great surprise if the Gloucester centre was given the summer off, opening the door for Tuipulotu and Bennett to stake a claim when Scotland tour Argentina.

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It adds a bit of spice to this weekend’s derby, as Tuipulotu acknowledged.

Sione Tuipulotu is focusing on Glasgow Warriors' 1872 Cup second leg with Edinburgh. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

“Yeah, I think if anyone said they weren’t thinking about that stuff they’d be lying to you,” said the Glasgow back. “If you’re eligible for Scotland and you’re playing in an Edinburgh versus Glasgow game you’ve always got Scotland in the back of your mind.

“But for me personally, I’m just thinking about Glasgow. It’s a long season to play in. To get to the final week and to be thinking about something else, I think you’d not be doing yourself any favours.”

Tuipulotu has been a muscular and hard-running addition to the Warriors backline this season, his form leading to a Scotland debut against Tonga in the autumn, Six Nations appearances as a substitute in the wins over England and Italy, and starts in the defeats by Wales and France.

Test rugby was always the goal when the Aussie-born player with the Scottish grandmother swapped the Japanese Top League for Scotstoun and Tuipulotu is pleased with his progress, even if a gruelling season is starting to catch up with him.

Sione Tuipulotu gets away from France's Antoine Dupont during the Six Nations match at BT Murrayfield in February. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

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“I knew it was long before I came here, obviously, but you never really know how it is on your body until you’re in it,” he said.

“The last couple of months have been tough for everyone, especially post-Six Nations. But I think the motivation at the end of the season – with the play-offs up for grabs – it’s a long season to go into and not give it your all at the end.

“One of the reasons I wanted to come over here was to try and play some Test rugby. To have done it in my first season and to enjoy some of the moments with the boys here is massive for me. I want to keep trying to do that as much as I can – but like I said, for me this weekend is purely about Glasgow and I really want to try and get the win and the 1872 Cup.”

Warriors hold a 13-point advantage going into Saturday’s second leg after winning the first match 30-17, a victory Tuipulotu puts down to his side’s physicality.

“I came off the bench in that game, and I remember watching from the stands – in the first 40 the boys really laid a platform in terms of physicality,” he said. “I think if we can do that again we give ourselves a good chance of trying to nullify some of the threats which they’ve shown over the last couple of weeks. It all starts and finishes with physicality.”

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