GLASGOW expect to learn today how many members of the Scotland squad will be released back to them for Saturday’s URC match against the Lions in Johannesburg.

Six players – Simon Berghan, Jamie Bhatti, Fraser Brown, Jack Dempsey, Sam Johnson and Ali Price – returned to the Warriors from the national camp for last Friday’s 17-11 home win over Ulster. It was a result that took the team’s unbeaten run into double figures – a new record for them as a professional side.

But that was in a Six Nations fallow week. Now, with the match against France coming up on Sunday, Scotland’s needs will almost certainly be greater.

“We’ve got an idea of what we’ll have, but it’s not finalised,” assistant coach Pete Murchie said yesterday. “[Scotland] have got to finalise their squad and also what they need for the training week and make sure they’ve got the appropriate cover.

“We won’t have everyone that we had on Friday night. It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that quite a few of them have been in the [Scotland] match-day XXIII.”

Bhatti, Brown and Dempsey have come off the bench in both of Scotland’s matches so far, while Berghan was a substitute in the Calcutta Cup match but dropped out of the squad for Wales as Zander Fagerson was available again. The lack of involvement to date by Johnson and Price makes them likelier to be released, but national squads often travel with three scrum-halves, in which case Price would john Ben White and George Horne in travelling to Paris.

Still, whoever is released, the bottom line for the Warriors is that they now have far greater consistency, whatever the make-up of their team, than they did in the early months of the season. And if at first they appeared unsure about how to put new head coach Franco Smith’s ideas into practice, they have shown since a shock win at Bath in the Challenge Cup in December that they now know exactly how to do that.

Smith had very little game time between his appointment in the close season and the start of the URC campaign in which to ensure that the squad were on the same page as him. In fact, a match against the Ayrshire Bulls Super6 side in Inverness was the Warriors’ only outing before kicking off their competitive season.

Murchie believes that lack of game time was a factor in the team’s inconsistent start, and he is equally convinced that simple hard work day after day in training is a major factor in the far better run of results that they have accumulated since that European victory a couple of months ago. “I think when there’s regime change, sometimes there’s an immediate bounce and sometimes it takes a little bit of time for the way you’re training and preparing to come through consistently,” he continued. “We saw that at the start our pre-season was interrupted: we had a hit out against Ayrshire Bulls and that was it.

“We saw some excellent performances, especially at home, but we didn’t necessarily have the consistency. But I guess when you train consistently you start to see that come through.

“So I just think it’s consistency in the way we approach every day and every session has come through into a more consistent approach in games. There’s no magic wand, it’s hard work really. We work hard here and it does bear fruit.

“But we’ve got a big challenge this weekend. It’s not the time of the season to congratulate yourselves too much. There’s another challenge and another opportunity for a group of players who have had game time for us and who have done well.

“We always try and find areas we can improve in. You have to improve constantly. There’s lots of teams making runs at the moment, there’s lots of teams in form, so if you’re not trying to get better you’re essentially going backwards.”

The Lions are a lowly 14th in the table, but they have already beaten Edinburgh on their travels this season, and at home, at altitude, they are an even tougher nut to crack. “They’re the kind of classic South African team who can score quickly, and they’ve got big men who hit hard defensively,” Murchie concluded.

“We’ll have to be at our best

on Saturday.”