The return of scrum-half Ali Price and tight-head prop Zander Fagerson, after an extended break following their British and Irish Lions tour exploits, has come as a timely boost for Glasgow Warriors ahead of hosting Leinster in round five of the United rugby Championship at Scotstoun this evening. 

Warriors have started the season impressively despite the absence of this influential duo – picking up 15 league point from a possible 20 to be placed fourth in the URC table going into this weekend – but Danny Wilson’s side know that they face a step up in class in this game against a side chasing their fifth consecutive league title. 

“Both Ali and Zander have trained well since returning to our environment and both men are eager to play their part for the team,” said Wilson. “They’ve had their relevant rest, recover and pre-season training. It comes thick and fast after this one, so it was right that they had the rest and the flow into this season that they needed.”  

Meanwhile, Ross Thompson has been selected at full-back, with Duncan Weir occupying the stand-off slot. 

“In certain games we played last season, including when we played [beat] Leinster, we had Adam Hastings at 15 and Ross at ten,” explained Wilson. “Basically, that gives us a little more flexibility around our kicking strategy and our ability to exit well.  

“We’ve probably struggled recently with some poor kicks that fed teams a little bit and you can’t do that against Leinster. It also means we have two tens, two playmakers or first receivers, on the field at any one time. 

“Ross is a 10, and a very 10 ten, as is Duncy, so we want to get them both on the field to give us the skill-sets of 10s in terms of kicking, handling, playmaking,” Wilson replied, when asked if Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend had asked to see Thompson at 15 with a view to using him there against Tonga next weekend. “It’s worked well for us in the past when we’ve done that, and we’re hopeful it’ll work again.” 

Wilson added that he is not concerned about Thompson being exposed at the back when Leinster have the ball. 

“It doesn’t massively change because 10s are in the back field receiving high balls anyway,” he explained. “He’s received plenty because you end up sometimes with 10 and 15 in the back field and the rest of the boys in the front line. He’s come off the bench in the latter stages of games to play 15 twice this year already. It’s a different opposition, a different challenge, so we need that guy in the back field. 

“We’re also slightly down on 15s at the moment, with Josh McKay [a summer recruit from New Zealand] not here yet,” Wilson added. “He arrives in the next few weeks which will give us another string to our bow in the future. 

Lions centre Robbie Henshaw is out with a foot injury, Ireland second-row James Ryan has a concussion and prop Andrew Portr appears to be rested.. Apart from that, Leinster have named a strong side with the other three of their Lions contingent – No8 Jack Conan, tight-head prop Tadhg Furlong and hooker Ronan Kelleher – all in the starting XV.

However, Wilson insisted that his team will draw confidence from their 15-12 win over the Dubliners at Scotstoun in the Rainbow Cup back in June. 

“Granted, it was the last game of the season, but that was a strong Leinster team we faced with a lot of top internationals in there, and as we know they are a very good side whatever team they put out – so, for me, that was a big marker,” he said. 

“We haven’t lost at home since February, but I’m under no illusions, and the rest of the squad is the same, that this is a very good side who have played very well recently. They had a very good win against the Scarlets last week. 

“However, if we turn up emotionally where we were last time we played them, and we get the tactical side of our game functioning as it should, then I think it should make for a very exciting game of rugby which we can hopefully finish on the right side of.  

“I think the other thing for us is to finish this block well. We’ve got 15 points from the first four games, with three wins on the bounce, so if we can get something out of this game then that would be a really good start to the season, and a great springboard with a number of players coming back to us [after the five-week break for the Autumn Nations Cup].” 


Glasgow Warriors (v Leinster at the Scotstoun Stadium, Friday 7.35pm British time): R Thompson; K Steyn, S Tuipulotu, S Johnson, R McLean; D Weir, A Price; J Bhatti, J Matthews, Z Fagerson, R Harley, R Gray, R Wilson, R Darge, R Wilson (captain). Substitutes: G Turner, O Kebble, E Pieretto, L Bean, M Fagerson, G Horne, N Grigg, C Fornes.

Leinster: H Keenan; A Byrne, G Ringrose, C Frawley, J Lowe; R Byrne, L McGrath; C Healy, R Kelleher, T Furlong, R Molon, R Baird, C Doris, D Leavy, J Conan. Substitutes: D Sheehan, E Byrne, M Ala’alatoa, D Toner, R Ruddock, J Gibson-Park, J Osborne, J van der Flier.