Glasgow Warriors head coach Danny Wilson has put all his main men into the first game at Scotstoun in seven months – and begun the plans for what he’ll do when they’re gone.
Wilson stands to lose a large percentage of his frontliners to Scotland camp next week, and while they all play against Scarlets on Sunday, he’s trying to broaden the numbers available to him once they become Gregor Townsend’s property.
“I don’t know any time during my coaching career when we haven’t had the second tier to go to (to fill gaps),” he said. “The big concern is that there will be a lot of eligible players who haven’t really done proper training, that is, they’ve not making a tackle for seven months.
“It’s strange, unchartered territory. For these guys, scrums, lineouts, contact, they need to be battle hardened. That takes at least a couple of weeks.
“So we have to take a look now and say if this one or that one fell out due to Covid, who do we go to next and how do we make sure they’re ready to go, or at least fit for purpose to be safe to go into a game of rugby?
“We’re working on putting a plan in place for that but it’ll take time.”
Wilson has plugged gaps with a couple of loan signings, including TJ Ioane from London Irish just this week. He welcomes back the squad’s first two Covid-contact protocol absences, key men Tom Gordon and Zander Fagerson for the Scarlets.
Fagerson in particular has got a “massive season” in front of him, the head coach believes.
“For me Zander ever since the World Cup has really hit his straps, from about halfway through the tournament,” said Wilson. “Since returning he’s had a great season for Glasgow and a great Six Nations for Scotland and I think he’s a real prospect, someone who could go on to the top end honours of the game, I believe.
“He’s a great pro as well and we always forget how young he is, as a tight head prop he’s got years and years ahead of him. It’s a massive year for him and his ambitions, and I hope we can help him fulfil them.”
The Warriors gave Connacht too much scope for “chaos” last week, and they can’t do the same against the Scarlets, believes Wilson.
“Our tries last week were three very good and well worked scores and we had some very good defensive sets; our defensive stats and numbers were really high in comparison to other games. “What we conceded was on the basis of poor decisions in key areas and maybe a bit of poor management of chaos opportunities for them.
“When you scored 24 points away from home you have to be winning. We have to look back at what we conceded and put that right.”
Glasgow team (vs Scarlets, Guinnness PRO14, Scotstoun, Sunday ko 5.15pm, live on Premier Sports)
Huw Jones; Tommy Seymour, Nick Grigg, Stafford McDowall, Ratu Tagive; Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Oli Kebble, Fraser Brown (capt), Zander Fagerson; Rob Harley, Scott Cummings; Ryan Wilson, Tom Gordon, Matt Fagerson.
Replacements: George Turner, Aki Seiuli, D’Arcy Rae, Richie Gray, Chris Fusaro, George Horne, Pete Honre, Niko Matawalu.