Dave Rennie believes he’ll find out more about his Glasgow Warriors “under the blowtorch” against Vern Cotter’s Montpellier side packed with international quality at Scotstoun.
The former Scotland head coach’s new charges have dropped to second place in the Top 14 following successive defeats to La Rochelle and Racing 92 but it’s a formidable looking outfit selected for a contest where both sides know defeat will definitely end their European Rugby Champions Cup campaign after just three games.
Rennie is relishing the challenge for his team, which includes Huw Jones for his long-awaited Warriors debut in the centre.
“Montpellier have some great resources in their midst, almost too many to mention,” said the head coach. “Bismarck du Plessis is back from injury and they have a huge backline; we know a lot about Aaron Cruden and the two South African boys in midfield are both big men.
“They have Nemani (Naholo) on one side of the field and (Benjamin) Fall on the other, and they are unbelievable athletes.
“We’re looking forward to it. We’ve defended very well in recent games but we will find out a bit more about our boys under the blowtorch tomorrow night.”
Cruden has close ties with Rennie, having played for him at Manawatu, New Zealand Under-20s and the Chiefs.
“I think he is one of the best 10s in the world if not the best 10,” conintued the coach. “He has a great understanding of the game, a very attacking mindset, and he is really driven, very professional.
“It’s a bit different for me to be coaching against him but I’m looking forward to it.”
Glasgow have skated through the Pro14 with ten wins from ten but lost both their European matches so far, and are bottom of the Pool without a point.
“We didn’t get it right in those two games, we learned a lot from them but losing put us under a bit of pressure,” added Rennie.
“We played pretty good sides and did not play well enough, learned a bit and hopefully we can show that tomorrow.”
Having Jones and Samuela Vunisa come in has been like getting two new players in mid-season, he agreed.
“It is good to bring in some fresh legs and there is a little bit of an X factor in Huw also,” continued Rennie. “He has been in fantastic form for Scotland as has Sam Johnston for us, and it was not an easy decision that midfield pairing but we went with two guys in great form.
“Huw is very familiar with a lot of the guys he is playing with and while he hasn’t played with Sam we are confident that he will adapt.
“A lot of our strikes and structures are not too foreign do what he has been using at Scotland, although maybe some of the terminology is different. He’s had to get a bit of homework done this week, but we’re confident he can cope with that.”
Glasgow Warriors (vs Montpellier Herault, European Rugby Champions Cup, Scotstoun Friday 7.45 pm, live on Sky Sports) Ruaridh Jackson; Leonardo Sarto, Huw Jones, Samuel Johnson, Tommy Seymour; Finn Russell, Ali Price; Jamie Bhatti, George Turner, Zander Fagerson; Scott Cummings, Jonny Gray; Ryan Wilson (capt), Callum Gibbins, Samu Vunisa.
Replacements: James Malcolm, Alex Allan, Siosiua Halanukonuka, Kiran McDonald, Matt Smith, George Horne, Peter Horne, Niko Matawalu.
Montpellier: Jesse Mogg; Benjamin Fall, Frans Steyn, Jan Serfontein, Nemani Nadolo; Aaron Cruden, Enzo Sanga; Mikheil Nariashvili, Bismarck Du Plessis, Johannes Jonker; Nicholaas Van Rensburg, Jacques Du Plessis; Kelian Galletier, Julien Bardy, Louis Picamoles (capt)
Replacements: Romain Ruffenach, Grégory Fichten, Mohamed Haouas, Konstantine Mikautadze, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Benoit Paillaugue, Gabriel N’gandebe, Henry Immelman.