Stormers v Glasgow Warriors: Danny Wilson targets two wins in South Africa but expects fierce front-row battle
This is as daunting a mission as Glasgow are likely to face in the URC this season. The Stormers, who Wilson’s side play in Cape Town on Friday, are on a five-game winning run and are breathing down the neck of their third-placed visitors with three rounds remaining of the regular season.
The Bulls, who host the Warriors in Pretoria next week, have not lost to a European side since going down to Edinburgh in October.
Two long-haul flights followed by training sessions in strength-sapping heat are hardly ideal preparations for taking on a team featuring two World Cup-winning props but Wilson was keen to stress the positives as he faced the media ahead of the Stormers match.
“We’re certainly here to win two games of rugby: that’s our goal and that’s what we’re training extremely hard for,” he said.
“We know that this league is so tight at the moment, any points are going to have a major bearing in these last three games.
“We’re here to win two games, but we know how hard a challenge that is, as other sides have shown. I think if we could achieve that we’d be the first to do that, which would be fantastic.”
Glasgow are based in Stellenbosch and trained in temperatures reaching 34 degrees on Wednesday but Wilson reckons it will be a good bit cooler when they take on the Stormers at 6.30pm local time (5.30pm BST).
“The challenges come with being away from home, especially the distances that we’re travelling,” acknowledged Wilson. “But at the same time it’s been quite refreshing, in a strange way.
“You’re coming to a very different place, and it’s been great in the down time for boys to get out and have a look around, recover from the travel, different scenery, some real nice weather, great food. So that does refresh you mentally.”
Ali Price will captain Glasgow as Ryan Wilson has not recovered from the dead leg he picked up against Newcastle. Jack Dempsey replaces Wilson at No 8 and Ally Miller also comes into the back row alongside Rory Darge.
Kiran McDonald is at lock in place of the injured Scott Cummings and Josh McKay moves to the wing where he slots in for Seb Cancelliere who damaged knee ligaments at Kingston Park. Ollie Smith is at full-back.
Zander Fagerson returns at tighthead and will pack down alongside Johnny Matthews and ex-Stormers prop Oli Kebble in what is likely to be a fierce front row battle against Steven Kitshoff, the home captain, fellow World Cup-winner Frans Malherbe, and Boks hooker Scarra Ntubeni.
“Scrum-time is going to be a big challenge,” said Wilson. “They have two very experienced props and a good front row generally – a good pack of forwards overall. We have some very experienced props there in Oli and Zander and also Simon Berghan and Jamie Bhatti. We have quality players of our own.”
DHL Stormers v Glasgow Warriors (URC, DHL Stadium, Cape Town, 17.30 BST. TV: live on Premier Sports)
DHL Stormers: Damian Willemse; Seabelo Senatla, Ruhan Nel, Rikus Pretorius, Leolin Zas; Manie Libbok, Herschel Jantjies; Steven Kitshoff (c), Scarra Ntubeni, Frans Malherbe, Adre Smith, Marvin Orie, Junior Pokomela, Hacjivah Dayimani, Evan Roos.
Replacements: JJ Kotze, Ali Vermaak, Brok Harris, Salmaan Moerat, Ben-Jason Dixon, Nama Xaba, Paul de Wet, Warrick Gelant.
Glasgow Warriors: Ollie Smith; Josh McKay, Sione Tuipulotu, Sam Johnson, Kyle Steyn; Ross Thompson, Ali Price (c); Oli Kebble, Johnny Matthews, Zander Fagerson, Richie Gray, Kiran McDonald, Ally Miller, Rory Darge, Jack Dempsey.
Replacements: George Turner, Jamie Bhatti, Simon Berghan, Rob Harley, Thomas Gordon, Jamie Dobie, Duncan Weir, Cole Forbes.
Referee: Andy Brace (IRFU).
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