WE’RE in Dublin for what is set to be a packed weekend for rugby fans. I for one cannot wait for it to get under way as Glasgow Warriors take on Toulon in the Challenge Cup Final.

The invasion of the Warrior Nation began yesterday morning with more fans due to arrive today. The Warrior Nation are committed to the cause and are flying, driving, catching ferries and trains from all over in order to be in the Aviva Stadium to support their team.

But all is not lost if you can’t make it to the match, as Glasgow Warriors have arranged many fan events both in Dublin and Glasgow to ensure everyone can be part of the final experience. From taking over the Hilton in Glasgow to the Sandymount in Dublin, on both sides of the pond you are guaranteed to bump into fans. They are streets are abuzz and everyone I have spoken with is excited to be here.

This has been a long time coming for the Glasgow club and many fans think it is down to the appointment of Franco Smith, with many dubbing it ‘The Franco Effect’.

“I definitely feel more confident since Franco Smith came in; it is almost back to how the club was under [Gregor] Townsend,” Glasgow Warriors season ticket holder Iain Lawless said.

You get the sense that the appointment of Smith has really made a difference both to the club but also to the fans. There is so much more belief in the team and as Glasgow Warriors fan Jane Farr added, “trust in Franco’s ability.”

“There are players who weren’t playing that well last season under Danny Wilson who I think now are playing probably above their ability,” Lawless continued.

The anticipation around who would be chosen in the coveted No.10 jersey has been building since Tom Jordan’s five-week ban was announced. Step forward Argentinian international Domingo Miotti.

Fans have had mixed responses to the team announcement overall, with avid Glasgow fan Fiona Wilson saying, “Domingo [Miotti] has played really well, and we are a bit short on tens just now, but we are missing Ross Thompson quite a lot this year.”

Janet Paterson, who travelled with her sister (Jane Farr) said she was “sad not to see Duncy (Duncan Weir) included in the team as he has always been a world-class 10 and was crucial in the last final in Ireland.”

Personally, I think it was a hard decision for Smith and his coaching team to make as Jordan has been the on-form fly-half for the club for the majority of this season. And the general consensus amongst fans shows I’m not alone in thinking that.

“It is a shame that [Tom] Jordan misses out because he has been phenomenal, and it really has only been him starting [at 10] the last run of games.” David Lawless said.

I along with every other Warriors fan have had such high hopes for this team this season as the impact Smith has had since he arrived at Scotstoun has been incredible. 17 games at home unbeaten was something we never thought we would see after the challenging seasons under Danny Wilson.

There is clear consensus amongst all Glasgow Warrior fans that the strength and depth of the bench is going to be the game changer.

Jane Farr told me when I asked how she felt about the team for the final: “I thought Johnny Matthews might be in [starting] but overall, I think it is a good team and the bench is strong.”

Many fans, myself included are sad not to see club legend Ryan Wilson’s name on the team sheet. After 13 years at the club, it is a shame he will be missing out on another final with this team. However, you can guarantee he will be the loudest one shouting from the sidelines.

The boys in black or blue need to bring that Glaswegian grit and determination they have shown all season.

Fiona Wilson summed up how every Warriors fan is feeling both here in Dublin and back in Glasgow: “this is tremendously exciting”. From walking around the streets today the fans are coming in numbers with black and blue strips on show everywhere. The pride the fans have for this team is truly inspiring.

As a long time Glasgow Warriors fan myself, this is a huge opportunity to really showcase everything that the team have been building on over the last 12 months. To be in Dublin in a final is something I thought I could only dream of.

But I believe this is a team that can go the extra mile and bring the Challenge Cup trophy back to Glasgow.

We all have one message… Come on Glasgow! We are Warriors!