Stuart Hogg won’t be risked by Glasgow Warriors even off the bench against Leinster as the Scotland full-back’s comeback from injury was postponed for at least another week.
Warriors head coach Dave Rennie said the plan had been to have Hogg on the bench in Dublin and start the final game of the European Rugby Champions Cup pool against Exeter at Scotstoun next Saturday, but he won’t even travel to the Irish capital.
Rennie anticipates having both Hogg – who has not played since injuring his hip in the All Black test in the autumn – and Tommy Seymour available for next week’s game, but in the meantime the coach will be sending a team without the Lions pair and also minus Finn Russell and Jonny Gray for a game that is a dead rubber to them.
“Hoggy had a little bit of an issue with a foot as well (as the hip injury),” said Rennie. “He had a scan but it looks good. The plan was to bring him off the bench this week and then start him next week, but he’s not quite right. We’re pretty confident about next week.”
Perhaps an indication of how late the Hogg decision was made is that the Warriors will have two scrum-halves on the bench, with both George Horne and Henry Pyrgos there.
“I guess with Niko on the wing we have four half-backs in the squad,” he said. “It’s just where we’re at from an injury point of view.
“There are a number of other backs who are fit but not registered and we already made a couple of subs that we were allowed so we’re all out of replacements. Half-back is one position where we’ve got no injuries.”
Finn Russell was due to be rested anyway but is rehabbing a minor shoulder injury, while Jonny Gray has “a handful of niggles” and was due a break, added the coach.
On the upside, George Turner makes his return after suspension – “a pretty lengthy one compared to some suspensions we’ve seen” said Rennie – and even with no chance of qualification he expects an under-strength team to give Leinster a strong examination.
“Leinster are one of the best sides in Europe – you’ve got to get excited by that, for a start, playing over there in Dublin,” he said. “It’s the exciting thing about being in a tough pool – there are questions asked of us each time and that will help us in our other competitions.
“We’ve still got plenty to play for, and there are a number of young fellas who have got an opportunity to make a statement. We’ve had a really good week of preparation and are looking forward to the clash on Sunday.”
Glasgow Warriors (vs Leinster, European Rugby Champions Cup, RDS, ko 1pm, tomorrow) Ruaridh Jackson; Lee Jones, Nick Grigg, Huw Jones, Niko Matawalu; Peter Horne, Ali Price; Jamie Bhatti, George Turner, Siua Halanukonuka; Rob Harley (capt), G Petersen; M Fagerson, M Smith, A Ashe. Replacements: G Stewart, A Allan, D’Arcy Rae, Kiran McDonald, Chris Fusaro, Goerge Horne, Brandon Thomson, Henry Pyrgos.