GLASGOW coach Danny Wilson welcomes back three key players for tomorrow’s game against Dragons - Fraser Brown and Adam Hastings to the starting line-up, and Pete Horne to the bench. Hooker Brown and centre Horne both return after being sidelined by injury since December, while Hastings, who is at full-back instead of his usual position of stand-off, has completed a three-week suspension after being sent off against Leinster.

The question for both Brown and Hastings now is whether they can do enough in this PRO14 Conference A game to convince Scotland coach Gregor Townsend that they should be included in his squad for next Friday’s game against France. Brown’s physicality and experience, not to mention Scotland’s lineout problems last week against Ireland, suggest he will be involved in Paris provided he comes through this test all right. Hastings’ involvement, meanwhile, could depend on whether Finn Russell, absent from today’s game against Italy, is passed fit for next week.

Brown is back slightly ahead of schedule, something that testifies to his hard work throughout his recovery, according to Wilson. “He’s a very diligent professional and he’s probably whipping the physios into shape and putting the pressure on,” the coach said. 

“He’s worked really hard to get back and he’s in a good place. He’s obviously keen to prove his availability for higher honours and let’s hope the start of that is a good game under his belt against the Dragons.”  

Hastings, meanwhile, is at full-back to allow Ross Thompson, the man of the match in last week’s win over the Ospreys, to continue at 10. “First of all I’ve seen Hasto play 15,” Wilson explained. “I was involved with Scotland when he’s played 15 and I know he’s very, very capable.

“I think Adam will be a real threat at 15. Obviously his kicking game is that of a 10.

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“Ross has been going really well. Ross is our future and therefore we need to maintain that investment in our future whilst trying to make sure we put the best team out to win a game of rugby. That’s the balancing act we’ve gone with.”

The two other changes to the starting line-up besides Hastings and Brown are at lock, where Richie Gray and Kiran McDonald take over from Leone Nakarawa and James Scott. Horne is joined on the bench by Fotu Lokotui, another who could be making his first appearance of the year after failing to be included in recent squads.

Wilson was keeping an anxious eye last night on the late match between Leinster and the Ospreys, knowing that a win for the Welsh side would finally end his own team’s chances of finishing third in the conference and claiming an automatic place in next season’s Champions Cup. Even if the Ospreys lost, however, to finish in third the Warriors would have to win at home to Benetton next weekend as well as claiming a victory at the Principality Stadium tomorrow.

A top-three finish is so far the only guarantee of a place in next season’s Champions Cup. There will almost certainly be more than six PRO14 clubs in that competition, but no details have been given on how teams outwith the top three will qualify, other than an assertion by a league official that there will not be a play-off between the two fourth-placed teams.

“I don’t know - I don’t think anyone knows,” Wilson said when asked if he thought fourth place would be enough to get into the Champions Cup. “All I know is that if we win two games and other results go our way then we qualify in third position. 

“To be honest with you that would be a big achievement given everything we’ve had to deal with this year.”


Glasgow Warriors (v Dragons at the Principality Stadium, tomorrow  3pm): A Hastings; R McLean, N Grigg, R Fergusson, L Jones; R Thompson, S Kennedy; A Seiuli, F Brown, E Pieretto, R Gray, K McDonald, R Harley, T Gordon, R Wilson (captain). Substitutes: G Stewart, D Evans, D Rae, L Nakarawa, F Lokotui, J Dobie, P Horne, O Smith.

Dragons: J Lewis; J Holmes, A Owen, J Roberts, A Hewitt; S Davies, G Bertranou; B Harris, R Hibbard, L Fairbrother, J Davies, M Screech, H Keddie, O Griffiths, R Moriarty. Substitutes: R Lawrence, J Reynolds, C Coleman, B Carter, B Fry, R Williams, N Tompkins, J Williams.