DANNY WILSON wants his players to view tonight’s Challenge Cup quarter-final clash against Lyon at Matmut Stadium de Gerland as a pressure-free opportunity to make history by becoming the first Glasgow Warriors team ever to progress beyond the last eight in any European competition. 

With several key players injured and the squad having just a few days back in Glasgow after a tough fortnight playing in South Africa, the odds are stacked against Wilson’s men, but that could have a liberating effect on the players.  

“We’re not quite at that place at the moment of having a fit and full squad to choose from but there were still some tough selection decisions this week, and it means some boys get a chance to show they should be in the squad normally,” reasoned the head coach. 

“In the past, that’s when the likes of Ross Thompson have had their first opportunities and it’s great to see a youngster like Gregor Brown coming through to sit on the bench this weekend. He’s missed a lot of rugby with a bad injury, but we remember when he was fit he really showed up well at the end of the year. Hopefully, he gets to show the same now. 

“No Scottish team has ever won a European trophy, so we go to play a team that has a very good record at home and is full of quality rugby players, and it’s a great challenge. Away from home we want to get better and better and there’s no greater test than in the games we’ve had: Bulls away, Stormers away and now Lyon away.” 

Wilson has made seven changes to the starting XV which played Glasgow’s last match against the Bulls.  

In the backline, fully fit again Sam Johnson returns to the starting XV at inside centre having struggled through the build-up to the previous game with an ankle injury, while Ross Thompson comes in at stand-off in place of Duncan Weir, who has broken a bone in his hand and won’t feature again this season. 

In the pack, Johnny Matthews is preferred to George Turner at hooker having been rested last weekend (Fraser Brown is out for two or three weeks with a shoulder injury), and Ally Miller starts at openside flanker in place of injured pair Rory Darge (knee) and Tom Gordon (concussion). 

Meanwhile, Wilson has gone with a six-two split on the bench, with Oli Kebble being rested meaning that Nathan McBeth provides loose-head cover. 

“We’re fortunate that we’ve got good props there,” the coach explained.” Oli has played a fair amount of rugby for us, so we wanted to give Nathan an opportunity. 

“Our forward pack is going to face a big physical challenge and we need to make sure we’ve got players to add there,” Wilson continued. “Lyon are a powerful unit so we’ve got to be able to deal with that and have some firepower off the bench.  

“It’s always a slight risk going six-two but it’s the same risk the other way too when you play this type of opposition. Hopefully, we don’t get any early backs injuries but if we do we’ve got Jamie Dobie that can cover wing as well as 9 as we saw against Munster recently, and Domingo can cover 10 and 15. Midfield cover will come from the team on the pitch. It’s the right tactic for this game I feel.” 

Several members of the Warriors squad were at Ibrox on Thursday night to see Rangers book their place in the Europa League Final, and Wilson said he hopes his players can draw inspiration from their footballing counterparts from across the city. 

“A few of the boys support other teams as well, but there’s certainly been a number of Rangers fans in our team who have been keen to see how their run in Europe has progressed,” he explained. “Even when we were away in South Africa recently, some of the boys were still watching the Rangers games. 

“It’s a great example of a team who have made it to a European final and done a brilliant job – and we hope to do the same.  

“If we can go on and become the first Scottish team to win a European trophy, that would be fantastic."

Glasgow Warriors (v Lyon at Matmut Stadium de Gerland, Saturday @ 8pm): O Smith; J McKay, S Tuipulotu, S Johnson, C Forbes; R Thompson, A Price; J Bhatti, J Matthews, Z Fagerson, R Harley, R Gray, R Wilson (c), A Miller, J Dempsey. Substitutes: G Turner, N McBeth, S Berghan, L Bean, K McDonald, G Brown, J Dobie, D Miotti. 

Lyon: T Arnold; J Tuisova, P Barassi, C Ngatai, D Niniashvili; L Berdeu, B Couilloud; S Taofifenua, Y Charcosset, D Bamba, F Lambey, R Taofifenua, D  Cretin, B Saginadze, P Sobela (c). Substitutes: M Ivaldi, V Devisme, H Kaabèche, T Mayanavanua, L Goujon, J Doussain, J Kpoku, X Mignot.