BEING stuck in the stands at the DHL Stadium in Cape Town as a helpless spectator last Friday night as Glasgow Warriors slumped to 32-7 defeat at the hands of the Stormers was not much fun for Ryan Wilson, so he is delighted to have sufficiently recovered from the dead-leg which kept him out of that match in time to be in contention for this coming Friday’s game against the Bulls. 

The club’s co-captain hopes to use his years of experience to help Warriors bounce back from that setback – and the fact that it will give him a chance to demonstrate to wife Bex, that he is in South Africa to work and not on a two-week jolly with his rugby pals is an added bonus. 

“I was maimed by my old mate Greg Peterson in the Newcastle Falcons game the week before we flew out, when he also maimed himself,” explained Wilson. “It was a real whack and wasn’t the best one to fly with. It’s been pretty sore and I didn’t recover in time for the game so was frustrated about that. 

“It’s a horrible to sit about like it’s a holiday. I think my wife was more pissed-off than anyone. She thought: ‘Why’s he gone over there if he’s not playing?’. But I just didn’t recover enough so had to watch from the side-lines which is something I’m not very good at. 

“It’s been lovely out here and it’s not been too hot which we were worried about,” he added. “Conditions at kick off on Friday night were perfect. It will be more difficult this week at altitude but we’re here to do a job. We don’t want to slip up at the final step, so we have to make sure we get something out of that game as it’s getting close. Two games left of the regular season, so we need points this weekend.” 

This has been a season steady if unspectacular progress for Warriors. Their marquee summers signings of Jack Dempsey, Josh McKay and Sione Tuipulotu have bedded in well, and several emerging youngsters such as Ross Thompson, Jamie Dobie, Ollie Smith and Murphy Walker have continued the process of coming of age at pro level. However, there is an ongoing issue with consistency, with the team particularly prone to sub-optimal performances in the second half of matches and when playing away from home. 

This was exhibited in dramatic fashion against the Stormers when the side from being right in the contest at 13-7 down with 50 minutes played to coughing up three tries and 19 unanswered points during the last half hour. 

While Warriors players and coaches insist that it is not a fitness or a mental issue, they struggle to explain exactly what is going wrong.  

“It’s about having control, I suppose,” suggested Wilson. “The Stormers are a side who tend to start the first 20 minutes really strongly and we matched them there which was good. The problem on Friday was that when a team gets away from you a little bit then suddenly it’s 60-65 minutes in and you’re two scores away and have to chase the game. That’s when you start to put a lot of pressure on yourselves and start to make mistakes.  

“So, it’s about staying calm in those moments to keep playing the game you want to play. But it’s not as simple as just one thing we need to do better.  

“This week we expect the Bulls will be a lot more physical which suits us better. When we have to front up a bit, we quite enjoy it, so that’s a good match for us.” 

That defeat to the Stormers left Glasgow sixth in the URC table, and while they are only one point shy of top four (which is where they need to finish for a home draw in the end of season knock-out phase), they could also drop out of the play-off placings altogether if they don’t get something out of their two remaining matches against the Bulls this weekend and then Edinburgh on 21st May. 

“There’s still a lot of belief in what we can do,” stressed Wilson. “If we take parts of that Stormers game and bring it into this one we’ll do okay, and we’d back ourselves in the last game against Edinburgh.  

“We’ll get the points we need. We just have to make sure we stay focused and don’t get too far ahead of ourselves, and not put pressure on ourselves when it’s not needed. We can start looking at that next week after this one.  But as one of the leaders I’m aware we need to make sure we get something out of this one. 

“I’ve not played at Loftus Versfeld before but I have played at altitude in Bloemfontein against the Cheetahs. I can still remember how my lungs felt. It’s tough. You’ve got to get through that first 15-20 minutes and then you’re into the swing of it. The way that we start games I hope we can control that and get us through that period and try to kick on in that second half period everyone says we’ve had trouble with.”