Glasgow will blood younger players more regularly in the next few months, but the Warriors are sticking to their plan to ease them in, says assistant coach Kenny Murray.
The Warriors have won just two games this season and are out of contention for the Guinness PRO14 finals place. They head into Friday’s second 1872 Cup game against Edinburgh discussing when to play some of their younger talent, revealed Murray.
Former Under-20 stand-off Ross Thompson is in contention to start the game at Scotstoun this week after a short cameo in the game at Murrayfield on Saturday, even if Pete Horne is back training after concussion protocols.
The plan is to bring in the likes of Ollie Smith and Rufus McLean in the next few weeks but it needs to be handled sensitively, said Murray.
“Jamie Dobie is just 19 and he’s been playing with us for the past couple of seasons so young guys have had a crack at it,” he said. “Stafford McDowall has obviously played a few.
“We want to give those young guys a shot and over the next wee while you will see that, but what we need to be careful about is throwing too many in at the same time. That’s happened in the past and had a negative impact.”
First live rugby of the season
Covid-19, and complete shutdown of the game outside the elite pro sphere, has complicated matters. Thompson’s brief appearance on Saturday was his first in any live rugby this season.
“The biggest thing is that guys who are on the fringes or coming through are not getting a chance to play at the moment,” continued Murray. “They would normally be playing in Super6 matches and getting a good bit of visibility.
“A couple of times this year we have had 12 versus 12 or 13 versus 13 games just to get the young guys and the wider squad players playing, because there is no club rugby to do that.
“We have been talking about trying to do something with Edinburgh, maybe some sort of A game. I don’t think there will be any club rugby in the near future. Without those opportunities we have to do it ourselves.”
Defences better than attacks
Most of Glasgow’s debrief from the first game at the weekend was about attack. Their defence held pretty well, making 99 tackles in the first half alone.
“I think both defences were probably better than the attacks,” said Murray. “There were a few opportunities we left out there. There was a nice line break by Huw, but we have to be able to finish off those opportunities.
“Defensively, we were pretty happy. We knew Edinburgh would come at us pretty physically and I thought we dealt with that.”
Gray ‘a real pain’ to Edinburgh
Key to the defensive effort was the return of lock Richie Gray and his presence at the lineouts, Murray agreed.
“He exceeded my expectations with what he did in the game after a long break,” he said. “I thought he had a massive impact in stopping Edinburgh’s attack cycle.
“We struggled in the scrum a bit, they would get a penalty and then a lineout. When they win a lineout and get the ball rolling it is hard to defend, so Richie played a massive role in stopping that by stealing four of them.
“I thought he was a real pain in Edinburgh’s side the whole game. He just needs to keep playing and get some consistency game after game.”
As well as Horne, Glasgow should have Scotland prop Oli Kebble back for the second game, and while Leone Nakarawa has re-started contact training, he’s unlikely to play against Edinburgh.