Nigel Carolan admits Glasgow Warriors’ coaching staff face a dilemma over when to reintegrate their Scotland internationals to their starting line-up.

The Warriors had 16 players at the World Cup in France but they’ve all now returned and participated in training on Tuesday at Scotstoun. Franco Smith handed starts to seven Scotland stars in the impressive 43-25 win over Leinster on Sunday as Glasgow kickstarted their United Rugby Championship campaign in style. 

Ali Price, Ollie Smith, Sione Tuipulotu, Richie Gray and Jack Dempsey, amongst others, will all come into contention for the trip to Ireland this weekend after missing the season opener. Carolan, however, concedes that not every returning Scotland international will be involved as it’s imperative to reward squad players to create a competitive environment

“Selection is really difficult,” Carolan admitted. “The line-out didn’t function as well as we would’ve liked in the second half against Leinster but outside of the set-piece Angus Fraser was unbelievable. 

“He’s a player that we feel that we need to invest in and the only way they will get better is from time on the pitch. There is a big dilemma around that and selection. Gregor Brown is another one when you’ve got Matt Fagerson, Jack Dempsey and Sione Vailanu back in the building. It’s going to be really difficult to leave these guys out and explain to them that it’s not performance-related - the challenge for us is to reward them. 

“Stafford McDowall has been one of our most consistent players over the last couple of years and he doesn’t have bad games. He’s got a passing, running and kicking threat. We have a responsibility to those young Scottish players to bring them through and the only way you can do that is to expose them every week and let our international players earn their spot. 

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“I must say since they’ve all come back in, the standard has gone through the roof. They’ve all been incubated in their own systems for the last four or five months but the standard has been high and everyone has been on their toes. Historically, opportunities have been limited but the standard has been really great.”

Glasgow’s Scotland contingent will be afforded time off across the season ahead of the Six Nations to recuperate but they’ve been eager to return as quickly as possible.

“Some of them don’t want to be off because they are in peak condition,” Carolan admitted. “It’s about managing their loads and it’s over a prolonged period between now and the Six Nations. They’ve been in camp for months so some don’t want to stop and they’ll take their break further down the line. It’s systematic of the new mindset and environment here. 

“Huw Jones said he really enjoyed himself last week and he’s doing what he does best. It’s difficult for some to take a break but they’ll all get a couple of weeks consecutively.”

Scotland’s squad at the World Cup was widely regarded as one of the best in generations but they failed to live up to that billing in an exceedingly tough group with Ireland and South Africa. 

Carolan accepts that frustration, factored with a desire to be successful with Glasgow, has been paramount to the quick return of their international stars. 

“It’s two-fold,” he added. “The disappointment of Scotland’s exit [is a factor] but also the way that we finished the season last year. We know that we came close to winning silverware and we need to be better this year. 

"They are keen to contribute and keen to ensure that Glasgow are winning. They know they are part of something powerful and a strong community here at Glasgow Warriors. It’s really tough to keep them away, we will look after them but they enjoy what they’re doing.”