Vodacom Bulls v Glasgow Warriors pitches Boks veteran Morne Steyn against Duncan Weir with kicking likely to be key

Glasgow Warriors will look to Duncan Weir to counter the threat posed by veteran fly-half Morne Steyn as they bid to take something from their trip to South Africa.

Duncan Weir replaces Ross Thompson as Glasgow Warriors' starting stand-off against the Bulls. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

Danny Wilson’s side face the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Friday night where they will need to overcome the altitude as well as opponents driven by the wily Steyn.

At 37, he is unlikely to run the legs off the visitors but the former Springbok is still adept at controlling games with his kicking repertoire.

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Weir is no slouch in that department either and replaces Ross Thompson at 10 in one of seven changes to the Glasgow team which lost to Stormers in Cape Town.

“I think we needed to improve a bit of our game management work from the weekend and we felt Duncan had had some really big games for us recently and deserved the opportunity,” said Wilson.

“He’s a bit different from Ross. Without going too much into tactics, this game probably leans more towards what we might be able to get out of Duncan.

“It’s at altitude and we’re playing against a team that has a good running game but also has a very, very strong kicking game with distance, especially with Morne Steyn playing.

“The field position and territory battle at altitude is big. So Duncy is part of that process. He’s a very educated kicking ten but can play the running game when we ask him to.”

Bulls fly-half Morne Steyn came off the bench to kick the winning penalty for South Africa in the final Test against the British and Irish Lions last summer. (Photo by EJ Langner/Gallo Images)

It’s getting to the nitty-gritty stage of the season for Glasgow who are trying to secure their place in the United Rugby Championship play-offs while keeping one eye on their Challenge Cup quarter-final against Lyon a week on Saturday.

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The Bulls game is their penultimate URC league fixture and Glasgow lie sixth, two points and two places above their South African opponents. They complete their regular season against Edinburgh at Murrayfield on May 21 but know a victory over the Bulls would see them take a huge step towards securing a top four finish and with it a home tie in the play-offs.

“Mathematically it’s not a must win but the reality is that we know it's a game we need to win away from home to give us the best opportunity of getting a home quarter-final,” said Wilson. “And obviously a lot will come down to that last game against Edinburgh as well.

“So there are two big games left in the league for us and on top of that we’re balancing a European knockout quarter-final game away at Lyon next week, so there is a fair bit to manage with the squad.”

As well as juggling his resources, Wilson and his players face a tough travelling schedule. They are back in Glasgow on Sunday, before heading to Lyon. Throw in the altitude and it’s not surprising that the coach is rotating his players.

The other changes see Cole Forbes replace the injured Kyle Steyn on the wing; Stafford McDowall coming in for Sam Johnson at 12; Jamie Bhatti swapping with Oli Kebble at loosehead; George Turner starting at hooker, with Fraser Brown as sub and Johnny Matthews rested; Rob Harley taking over from Kiran McDonald in the second row and the fit again Ryan Wilson returning to captain the side as Ally Miller drops out.

Vodacom Bulls v Glasgow Warriors (Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria, 6pm UK. TV: live on Premier Sports 1)

Vodacom Bulls: Canan Moodie; James Verity-Amm, Lionel Mapoe, Cornal Hendricks, Madosh Tambwe; Morne Steyn, Zak Burger; Gerhard Steenekamp, Johan Grobbelaar, Mornay Smith, Walt Steenkamp, Ruan Nortje, Marcell Coetzee (CAPT), Arno Botha, Elrigh Louw.

Replacements: Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Simphiwe Matanzima, Dylan Smith, Janko Swanepoel, Cyle Brink; Embrose Papier, Chris Smith, Harold Vorster

Glasgow Warriors: Ollie Smith, Josh McKay, Sione Tuipulotu, Stafford McDowall, Cole Forbes, Duncan Weir, Ali Price, Jamie Bhatti, George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Rob Harley, Richie Gray, Ryan Wilson (CAPT), Rory Darge, Jack Dempsey.

Replacements: Fraser Brown, Oli Kebble, Simon Berghan, Kiran McDonald, Thomas Gordon, Jamie Dobie, Ross Thompson, Sam Johnson.

Referee: Nika Amashukeli (GRU).


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