GLASGOW head coach Franco Smith last night insisted he was doing all he could to remain focused on this evening’s Challenge Cup match at home to Bath, but admitted that the case of Rufus McLean had become “the elephant in the room” for himself and the Warriors squad.

Glasgow announced on Wednesday that they had suspended the 22-year-old Scotland international after he pleaded guilty to a domestic-abuse charge. McLean will be sentenced for that next month, and is also awaiting the outcome of the club’s internal disciplinary hearing.

Smith only took over as Warriors coach last summer, a year and a half after the period to which the charges against McLean relate. With the case yet to be completed, he stated he was limited in the comments he could make, but revealed he had addressed the squad about the issue.

“Yes – it’s the elephant in the room, that goes without saying,” Smith said. “It’s the same feeling around the club: we have our values and Rufus has let us down in that regard. We have to focus on what we need to do, which is putting this club in the best position on the rugby field with our conduct and the way we go about our business. Since I’ve been here the guys have been extremely good on and off the field and I appreciate that.

“What’s happened doesn’t represent this team or this club. Absolutely not. We’re all about representing the Warrior Nation, we’re all about honour and playing the best that we can, showing our affection to the club with the way that we play and conduct ourselves. That’s going to be the motto.”

Asked when the disciplinary hearing would be complete, Smith added: “I’m not sure. I know it’s ongoing, but I’m not sure when it’s going to be done. We’re trying to keep the rugby side away from this.”

Back on the rugby side, Smith has made 10 changes to his team for tonight’s final Pool A match at Scotstoun, from which the Warriors need only a point to ensure a home draw in the round of 16. Full-back Josh McKay is the only member of the back division to keep his place from last week’s win at Perpignan, while up front last week’s man of the match Johnny Matthews, plus Lucio Sordoni, Richie Gray and Euan Ferrie hold on to their jerseys.

Thirteen players have been listed as unavailable for selection because of injury, among them key forwards such as Fraser Brown, Scott Cummings, Rory Darge and Zander Fagerson. But the Warriors have shown in winning their last seven games between Europe and the URC that they are able to maintain high standards despite heavy squad rotation - something that Smith ascribes in part to improved fitness.

“The main ingredients in our team are enthusiasm, creativity, energy and clarity in how we prepare,” he continued. “Now that everyone is physically improving, we showed against Perpignan last week that the intensity of our play is very good.

“We’re coming towards the end of an 11-game block. From my experience that is sometimes one or two games too far if you don’t have the ability to interchange the squad. When we started here on August 1 the plan was to develop the whole squad, as a good squad makes a very good team. That gives us a platform to be competitive and even grow this snowball to make it even bigger.”

The Warriors are currently fourth in the ten-team pool, and it is the top four teams in each of the two pools that will have a home draw in the last 16. The fifth and sixth-placed teams in each also qualify, which gives Bath an incentive: currently seventh with just a point to their name, they will go through if they get a better result here than Perpignan - ahead of them on points differential only - manage at Bristol this evening.

Fifth-placed Bristol - who were docked four points this week for fielding an ineligible player - are the only team who can deny the Warriors a top-four finish. But to do that they would need all five points against Perpignan and rely on the Warriors drawing a blank.