Tom Gordon starts for Glasgow in 1872 Cup as Dave Rennie springs surprise

Glasgow have selected an unknown quantity on the flank against Edinburgh in what has become a huge game for both teams today. Tom Gordon has just one previous start for Glasgow to his name while the club’s co-captain, Scotland international Ryan Wilson, is on the bench.

Tom Gordon has made just one start for Glasgow but Dave Rennie has 'a lot of faith' in the flanker. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS/SRU
Tom Gordon has made just one start for Glasgow but Dave Rennie has 'a lot of faith' in the flanker. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS/SRU

Of course the real issue here is what sort of future the game has when three of Glasgow’s four specialist sevens are all injured but it seems that is a question for tomorrow, always tomorrow?

Gordon is a canny operator, a Kiwi by birth who qualifies for Scotland thanks to a Gretna Granny and has already turned out for the Under-20s. He has been ripping up trees this season, which is good news, but 
mostly for the Currie Chieftains in clubland which is not.

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The Tennent’s Premiership is a long way down the food chain from the Pro14, especially given the crucial nature of today’s encounter. Edinburgh’s No 7 Hamish Watson will have an extra spring in his step this evening.

“Callum Gibbins is feeling really good but he failed his cog [cognitive test taken post head injury assessment] earlier in the week, so we’ll leave him a little bit longer,” 
Glasgow coach Dave Rennie, pictured, explained at the team announcement.

“He’s taken a full part in the training, apart from the contact stuff so he’s out and Chris Fusaro did a hammy in the first minute against Leinster, so he’s gone for the season. Matt Smith’s obviously done his shoulder a while back, so he’s gone for the season too, so it’s a great opportunity for Tom.

“He’s started one game for us and had a couple of cameos and we’ve got a lot of faith in him, so it’s a big game for him. What we’ve seen from him is that he’s a really good athlete, he carries the ball superbly,
he’s really brutal around clean out and that’s going to be important against guys like Watson etc, so we don’t think it’s a risk, it’s a good challenge for him. He spent a bit of time with Callum Gibbins yesterday over a coffee, making sure he got clarity around his role and it allows us to bring Ryan Wilson into the game a little bit later after he’s been out for a while.”

Did the Glasgow coach think about starting Wilson, who has worn the seven shirt at international level, and 
bring Gordon off the bench instead?

“We considered that but we decided that Tom’s been playing footie, a bit of club stuff, a bit with us and he played some sevens recently,” replied Rennie. “He’s fit and ready to go so we think that’s the best case scenario for us.”

There were few other surprises with Fraser Brown taking the captaincy and Jamie Bhatti, who moves along the M8 to Edinburgh this summer, getting the start at loosehead with Oli Kebble’s back still troubling him. Jonny Gray and Scott Cummings resume their partnership at lock, Rob Harley starts at six but will likely finish the game in the second row as Glasgow have two breakaways, Wilson and USA Eagle Tevita Tameilau, on the bench sitting alongside the two Horne brothers, Peter and George, who may yet have a big say in this game.

In the absence of the injured Nick Grigg and the departed Alex Dunbar, Sam Johnson and Kyle Steyn fill the centre spots with the back three places taken by Tommy Seymour, Niko Matawalu and the irrepressible Stuart Hogg who could be making his final appearance at Scotstoun before a summer move to Exeter if Glasgow finish second in Conference A.

According to his coach, Hogg is bouncing off the walls and desperate to make a statement before leaving the only professional club he has ever played for. His battle with another classy Hawick full-back in Edinburgh’s Darcy Graham should be one of the highlights of the game.

“Hoggy is determined to take a bit of silverware before he goes, and his contribution has been great,” said Rennie. “He’s been training well and it will be good to see him tomorrow.”

Hogg is not alone in his determination to win the Pro14 title this season.

“I think everyone is,” replied Rennie. “When you get to this stage of the year and you’ve got yourself in a position where you’re going to be in the play-offs, you know you’re only three quality 80-minute performances away from winning. We’ve had a really good build-up. We’ve played Ulster and Leinster in the last couple of weeks and they’re good sides, so that’s given us a bit of a battle-hardened edge going into this game.”