Tommy Seymour will replace British and Irish Lions team-mate Stuart Hogg at full back for Glasgow Warriors tonight in Dublin as the club seeks to send off Gregor Townsend with a strong finish to the Guinness PRO12.
Leinster’s fortress at the RDS is the only venue in the competition where the Warriors have never won during Townsend’s tenure, with PRO12 final and semi-final losses among some excruciating reverses there.
The Warriors are not yet mathematically out of a play-off space but the likelihood of a top four place is minimal, yet unlike Leinster after their European Champions Cup semi-final exertions Townsend has picked a very strong team.
Only Hogg and Ryan Wilson of Glasgow’s Scotland regulars are omitted entirely with Seymour – who will make his 100th appearance for the club – Fraser Brown and Johnny Gray starting while Finn Russell, Zander Fagerson and Alex Dunbar are on the bench.
Townsend is sure to pick as strong a side as he has available for next week’s finale to his time at Scotstoun, the second leg of the 1872 Cup match against Edinburgh, but in the meantime the focus is a first win in Dublin.
“Leinster are a team we always enjoy playing, they are one of the best teams in Europe and always try to play positive rugby,” he said. “We’ll have to go there and play really well if we’re going to come away with a win.”
Seymour crushed the Dubliners in the first meeting of the sides back in September with a haul of four tries, and has continued that form throughout the season, said the head coach.
“It has been a good couple of weeks for Tommy,” said Townsend. “He’s always looking to develop and better himself and it’s great for him to reach the personal milestone of a century of appearances.
“He signed a new contract earlier in the season, the Lions selection is hugely deserved and I’m certain he’ll go on to shine for the club many more times in the future.”
Glasgow have won three of their last four PRO12 with a try bonus, and face a Leinster side with only three survivors from the loss to Clermont Auvergne in Lyon last week.
Zane Kirchner, Fergus McFadden and Jack Coman are the three to stay in the side while tight-head Mike Ross is set to make his final appearance before retirement.
Glasgow (vs Leinster, Guinness PRO12, RDS, tonight ko 7.35
T Seymour; L Sarto, N Grigg, S Johnson, L Jones; P Horne, H Pyrgos; A Allan, F Brown, S Puafisi; B Alainu’uese, J Gray; T Swinson, C Fusaro, A Ashe
Replacements: P MacArthur, G Reid, Z Fagerson, R Harley, M Fagerson, A Price, F Russell, A Dunbar