DANNY WILSON says he has no concerns about his Scotland contingent being able to refocus on club duty after a gruelling and ultimately disappointing Six Nations. In a change of protocol to previous years, when returning internationalists have been given a week or two off club duty to rest and recover, the Glasgow Warriors head coach has named six players who were involved in last weekend’s loss to Ireland in his starting XV for this evening’s United Rugby Championship clash away to Cardiff. 

Scrum-half Ali Price, centres Sam Johnson and Kyle Steyn, prop Zander Fagerson, hooker Fraser Brown and flanker Rory Darge have all been given an early chance to get back on the horse, as Warriors seek a valuable away win which will consolidate their position in the top four of the URC table. 

Warriors are currently third, seven points behind league leaders Leinster and six points behind Ulster with five rounds of matches – including this weekend’s – to play. They are a single point ahead of fourth in the table Munster and four points ahead of fifth placed Edinburgh. A top four finish would secure a home draw in the play-off quarter finals. 

Wilson has made eight changes in total to the side which took the field in last Friday’s 1872 Cup victory over Edinburgh at Scotstoun, with Jamie Bhatti recovering from a hand injury to be selected at loose-head prop, and Ross Thompson making his first start since January ahead of Duncan Weir at stand-off. 

And the coach has insisted that the players who have dropped out of the Warriors starting XV should not feel like they have been snubbed. 

“Normally when you come back after a Six Nations or an Autumn series, it is game after game after game, so you rest them very quickly because there isn’t a chance coming up to do that, but we’ve got two games now then a week off with no game, so we’ll manage our players over that period a little bit differently,” explained Wilson. 

“You’ll see a few of the boys who started that [Edinburgh] game come back in next week against Zebre in place of a couple of the internationals,” he added.  “We feel like our squad has achieved a huge amount, winning five out of eight before the Six Nations, then four out of five during the Six Nations.   Now it’s about whether can we take that whole depth of squad and use that over the next two games to get two wins?  

“It’s a case of being very up-front and honest with your players, to say: ‘Look, we believe we’ve got some real depth here and this is the best way to manage our squad’.”  

Wilson also explained why a number of front-line players were not available for selections this week. 

“Matt Fagerson has unfortunately re-broken his arm so will leave him unavailable for selection for us for at least four weeks,” he said. “There may well be surgery needed but until I get that from the surgeon we will wait and see.”  

“George Turner took a head-knock in the last game for Scotland and isn’t quite right yet, and Sione Tuipulotu has got a bit of a hamstring niggle we need to get to the bottom of.   

“The other one who is injured for maybe the next month or so is Tom Gordon with what looked like a nasty knee injury in the Edinburgh game but is not as bad as we thought it was.  I thought he was outstanding last week, so it is very unfortunate that he picked up that injury. 

“With beating Edinburgh in the derby, this game becomes huge because if we can win it and the next game, then we’ll go to South Africa in that top three or four place in the league,” he added. “That’s a great place for us to be going into the business end of the season. 

“Four out of our last five games are away so we need to be better on the road. We’ve got an excellent home record and lost only once all season, but away from home we’ve not been as good as we should have been. We had a brilliant win in Connacht, but we need to do that more often.” 

Two of the Scotland squad members in this team, Price and Johnson, along with the inured Tuipulotu, were involved in the illicit drinking session which overshadowed last weekend’s loss for Scotland in Dublin, but Wilson insisted that this was not relevant to his team’s preparation for this weekend’s match. 

“I’ve spoken to the players but for obvious reasons we’re trying to move on from it to focus on Glasgow and our game this weekend,” he said. “We had a brief conversation on it but nothing too detailed as they’re back in our environment now.” 

Glasgow Warriors: J McKay; S Cancelliere, K Steyn, S Johnson, C Forbes; R Thompson, A Price; J Bhatti, F Brown, Z Fagerson, S Cummings, R Gray, R Wilson (captain), R Darge, J Dempsey. Substitutes: J Matthews, O Kebble, M Walker, K McDonald, A Miller, J Dobie, D Weir, S McDowall.