Gregor Townsend may be changing his spots in his final year as Glasgow Warriors coach with minimal changes in the starting line-up for today’s Guinness PRO12 showdown with Leinster.
The Warriors coach has never hesitated to switch his starting team from week-to-week no matter what the result during his four years in charge at Scotstoun, the infamous “Toony Tombola” which ensures all his large squad of players gets plenty of game time.
Yet as the Warriors play their first game on the new artificial surface at Scotstoun laid during the summer to finally solve the recurring problems with the playing surface, Townsend – who leaves at the end of the season to take up the reins of the Scotland national team – has made only two changes to the starting XV, both in the front row.
That’s partly a reward for the stunning 41-5 victory at champions Connacht last week which set a marker for the season that will be hard to live up to.
“We always look on each week as a fresh and different challenge to the last and this is no different,” said the head coach.
“We were pleased with aspects of our game last weekend and it was good to start with a win, but there has been plenty to work on in training this week.
“We always have a really good contest with Leinster and they will be coming to Glasgow with confidence following their win against Treviso last week.”
Scotland hooker Fraser Brown and Tongan prop Sila Paufisi come into the side for Pat MacArthur and Zander Fagerson, but otherwise Tonwsend has left well alone, sticking wsith the half-back partnership of Henry Pyrgos and Peter Horne which went so well at the Sportsgrounds last week.
Townsend has long coveted the faster artificial surface for the Warriors’ home patch, believing it suits his side’s style of play. The team are unbeaten on “3G” pitches for three years, winning at Cardiff regularly and also twice at Rugby Park when matches were switched there because of the problems with the grass pitch at Scotstoun last year.
The relaying of the pitch this summer uncovered drainage problems on the main stand side which would have made it impossible for grass to thrive there long-term. Instead the Warriors have a sleek new surface made for running rugby and a capacity risen to 7000 with the addition of an additional stand.
“We’re expecting a capacity crowd and we’re really looking forward to being back home playing on the new pitch for the first time in front of our own supporters,” added Townsend.
There’s still no place for British Lions playmaker Jonny Sexton in Leinster’s line-up, nor his Irish internatioinal colleagues Jamie Heaslip and Devin Toner. Luke McGrath will skipper the side from scrum-half with the most notable change from the team that beat Treviso a recall for Irish international wing Dave Kearney.
Glasgow (vs Leinster, Scotstoun Stadium, today ko 3pm, live on Sky Sports 3)
S Hogg; L Sarto, A Dunbar, S Johnson, T Seymour; P Horne, H Pyrgos; G Reid, F Brown, S Puafisi; T Swinson, J Gray; R Harley, S Favaro, R Wilson. Replacements: C Flynn, A Allan, Z Fagerson, T Uanivi, L Wynee, A Price, R Clegg, L Jones.