Why Ali Price is on Glasgow Warriors bench as Scott Cummings returns for Ulster clash
Head coach Franco Smith has backed the 26-year-old to hit the ground running against fellow United Rugby Championship play-off contenders.
“He could have been ready a little bit earlier, but I wanted to make sure he got some proper contact training,” explained Smith. “It’s important to get the guys back when they are ready to perform properly, not just back to play.
“It is the same for guys like Rory Darge and Oli Kebble, who will come back in the next couple of weeks,” the South African added. “It’s important that they are properly prepared and confident because it’s tough when you are coming back from an injury.”
Smith has named seven players in his match-day 23 who have been released from Scotland’s Six Nations training squad. Centre and captain Stafford McDowall, full-back Ollie Smith and No 8 Jack Dempsey all start, while props Jamie Bhatti and Simon Berghan, hooker Fraser Brown and scrum-half Ali Price are on the bench.
Price started this season as Scotland’s first choice No 9 but has been knocked off his international perch by his Warriors team-mate George Horne, and he will be frustrated that he hasn’t been given a chance to push his case from the start against Ulster.
However, Smith believes it is the right time to hand the No 9 jersey to 21-year-old Jamie Dobie, with one eye on the team’s re-arranged fixture away to the Lions, which has been scheduled for next weekend meaning that it clashes with Scotland’s trip to Paris to take on France.
“Jamie is a huge talent and is still young, so he’s definitely got a bright future ahead of him,” said the coach. “It’s fantastic for him to have a guy like Ali Price there to learn from, and for us to have Ali to come on and make an impact this week
“Jamie is definitely the future of Scottish rugby, I reckon, and we want him to grow in confidence and to really impose himself on the game. The more time he spends on the pitch for us, the better he will become.
“Ali started against the Dragons [just before the start of the Six Nations], but we worked well in training last week and I want to have a little bit of continuity with the fact that we will not have George or Ali available for next week,” Smith continued.
“Apart from the fact that Jamie played really well against the Dragons during the second half of the game, it is also between him and Sean Kennedy at scrum-half when we got to South Africa, so we felt they needed some more rugby – they hadn’t played enough – and this is an opportunity to give Jamie that opportunity to express himself in the first part of the game.
“I always had a plan in terms of how we’d manage the players during this period, and we’ve not had many injuries in that regard, so it’s worked out well.”
Irish cap John Cooney – who has been tipped as a potential Scotland call-up during the second half of this Six Nations campaign through World Rugby’s controversial new eligibility laws – has been named on the bench for Ulster.
Glasgow Warriors (v Ulster at Scotstoun Stadium on Friday @ 7.35pm): O Smith; S Cancelliere, S McDowall©, S Johnson, C Forbes; T Jordan, J Dobie; N McBeth, J Matthews, L Sordoni, L Bean, S Cummings, T Gordon, S Vailanu, J Dempsey. Substitutes: F Brown, J Bhatti, S Berghan, J Du Preez, A Samuel, E Ferrie, A Price, D Weir.
Ulster: E McIlroy; B Moxham, J Hume, S Moore, J Stockdale; B Burns, N Doak; E O’Sullivan, T Stewart, J Toomaga-Allen, A O’Connor©, K Treadwell, H Sheridan, J Murphy, N Timoney. Substitutes: J Andrew, R Sutherland, A Warwick, C Izuchukwu, G Jones, J Cooney, L Marshall, C Gilroy.
Referee: Craig Evans (WRU)
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