ROOKIE Glasgow Warriors skipper Stafford McDowall insists that his job was made easy by the presence of several experienced characters in the side that beat Perpignan at Stade Aime Giral on Saturday.

The 24-year-old was handed the captain’s role as part of coach Franco Smith’s ongoing efforts to broaden squad strength by rotating the team week by week. There were 12 changes for the trip to France, with McDowall’s inclusion coming with the added leadership responsibility.

He marshalled his men well, helping Warriors to bounce back twice in the early stages after conceding tries. However, the modest McDowall played down his role, saying, “I just tried to focus on my job. It was a massively proud moment for me and my family, but I just tried to approach it as a normal game and try and not put too much pressure on myself.

“There’s leaders right through the team that massively helped me. I didn’t have to do anything different to be honest. The team’s good – everyone does their own role and takes care of themselves.”

The 40-26 victory was a seventh straight win for Warriors and was enough to secure a place in the knockout phase of the European Challenge Cup. Warriors had gone into the match as favourites, given current form and the struggles of the Catalans, who currently sit bottom of the Top 14 table. However, there was never any risk that the visitors would underestimate their opponents, and the contest lived up to expectations.

“They were a massive physical threat and a huge forward pack. When we lost collisions they posed a lot of threats to us and then a back line that can cause you danger out wide. I think when we won those first up collisions and we got our spacing right we looked comfortable”, added McDowall, who was among the try scorers as Warriors secured the bonus point by half time and added two more in the second half.

Perpignan raced into an early lead through Eddie Sawailau but Sam

Johnson celebrated his return from injury with an excellent score, while Domingo Miotti converted shortly before being replaced by Duncan Weir.

Perpignan’s response was a touchdown from Nino Seguela, but that lead was short-lived and by half time, Richie Gray, McDowall and Johnny Matthews had bagged one apiece. The hosts looked out of it but gave themselves a glimmer of hope when Matteo Rodor dotted down. A try apiece for Ollie Smith and Josh McKay secured victory for Warriors, although Perpignan had the final word when Posolo Tuilagi grabbed a late bonus point try.

While happy with the overall showing and quality of the tries, McDowall expressed concern over disciplinary lapses that brought three yellow cards for Warriors.

“When we got going and we got quick ball and we nailed it at the breakdown, I thought our attack was pretty good. We managed to stretch them quite a lot and if we held onto the ball it usually ended up with us scoring if we played in the right areas”, he added. “But our discipline just killed us. Any time we were starting to pull away in the game, it would either be a yellow card or a string of penalties that would allow Perpignan to come back into the game. In games in the future, we can’t afford for that to happen or teams will punish us. I guess we were lucky that we managed to score enough tries when we had 15 men on the field and we got away with it. It’s another win on the books and another away win, which is massive for us.”

On current trend, Warriors are rightly regarded as serious silverware contenders in both league and cup competitions. McDowall prefers to focus on the immediate future and the visit of Bath to Scotstoun on Friday. Another win for the home side would give them a home draw.

“We’ve definitely got a squad now that is definitely deep enough to challenge on two fronts but we’ll just take it week by week and game by game. We are not going to look any further ahead than next week’s game against Bath”, he said.