Glasgow have stuck to the plan despite their 1872 Cup reverses and will give opportunities to all this week in Italy as they seek to build for two crucial European dates.
Head coach Dave Rennie – who is close to signing a year extension to his contract to stay at Scotstoun – picked the team for the trip to Treviso to take on Benetton today prior to the two losses to Edinburgh and nothing that happened in those games changed his view.
It means straight back on the bike for rookie hooker Grant Stewart after a difficult day in the second leg of the 1872 Cup and opportunities for others to stake a claim ahead of the European doubleheader against Cardiff and Saracens where Glasgow will be looking to claim a Heineken Cup quarter-final place.
“Hookers at all levels – some of the best hookers in the game – have days like that,” said Rennie. “Grant is a pretty good thrower and it was communication issues mostly. We still have a lot of confidence in him. He has had a good weeks’ training and we expect him to better next week.”
Glasgow will only think about extra help at the position if there is “a disaster” at the weekend in terms of more injuries, with Fraser Brown and George Turner set to be back later this month or early February.
“People who front well in this game will put pressure on us from a selection point of view which is good,” continued the coach. “We will have some clarity after this match.
“In the last two weeks we weren’t clinical enough. We made more handling errors in those two games than we made in the previous five.
“Edinburgh are a good side with international pack, and they played as well as I’ve seen them play during the last year and a half, so you’ve got to give credit to them. We created opportunities but were not as sharp as we had been previously.
“Against good sides you have to take your opportunities.”
Scott Cummings returns having missed most of the last month and Rennie is happy with his five second rows having allowed USA international Greg Peterson to depart for Bordeaux Begles.
“Greg was getting limited opportunities with us and he’s itching to go to the World Cup,” said Rennie. “Bordeaux came knocking because they have a few injuries around there and he’s just really keen to play, so we fully understand that.
“We couldn’t guarantee him a contract beyond this year, whereas if he goes to Bordeaux and plays well then he could get an opportunity there, so he goes with our best wishes.”
Glasgow have a great record in Italy in recent times but this is a different Benetton side, he added.
“I know (head coach) Kieran Crowley really well and I think he has done a fantastic job over there,” continued Rennie.
“They’ve recruited really well, they can hurt you through their line-out drive and they are the highest offloading side in the competition, so they are prepared to play.
“They are genuine play-off contenders having got themselves in a strong position in Conference B. So there will be no underestimation – we are well aware of the challenge ahead.”
On the injury list Stuart Hogg has a tight groin, while Peter Horne had a bone bruise but both were due to be rested anyway and should be fit for Cardiff next week.
Oli Kebble and Alex Dunbar will be “touch and go” for the Blues with nagging injuries picked up against Edinburgh.
Glasgow team: Ruaridh Jackson; Robbie Nairn, Stafford McDowall, Sam Johnson, Niko Matawalu; Adam Hastings, George Horne; Jamie Bhatti, Grant Stewart, Siua Halanukonuka; Tim Swinson, Scott Cummings; Ryan Wilson (capt), Chris Fusaro, Adam Ashe.
Replacements: Kevin Bryce, Alex Allan, D’Arcy Rae, Rob Harley, Matt Smith, Nick Frisby, Brandon Thomson, Lee Jones.