Franco Smith concedes Glasgow Warriors are one scrum-half injury away from disaster, but Ali Price won’t be returning to Scotstoun. 

The 30-year-old made his Edinburgh debut last night after his shock loan move from Glasgow with the SRU hugely influential in the deal. Price was third-choice at Glasgow and moved to their rivals in search of gametime but that decision has come under scrutiny after Jamie Dobie sustained a troublesome injury. 

Dobie’s potential was a factor in Price’s departure but he faces at least three months on the sidelines, leaving Glasgow with just two senior No.9 in George Horne and Sean Kennedy The Scotland international will be part of Gregor Townsend’s squad for the Six Nations and with Dobie unlikely to return before then, Glasgow will have to rely on Kennedy and Smith is currently assessing if he can bring a new signing. 

“That is true, and we realise that, so the process is ongoing,” Smith replied when asked if Glasgow were one scrum-half injury away from disaster. “With George and the Six Nations (being away for) we are well aware of the problem. We are busy looking. I don't want to say too much but we will allow the young guys and Sean to get their opportunity so let's see how things develop but obviously we are aware of the problem.

“I said last week we will bridge that river when it appears so we will start looking but as I said to the decision makers here, we are not going to take anyone, we will take the right person. We are now in the position of having a look but I have 100 per cent confidence in the players we have got to keep the ball running.”

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On whether Glasgow could recall Price from his Edinburgh loan, Smith declared: “I don't think the reasons have changed as to why he has gone to Edinburgh. ....we would have had discussions from the start around the situation. Apparently, that is not going to be the case.”

While Dobie’s absence is a considerable blow, Glasgow has been boosted by some positive injury news. Huw Jones is expected to return sooner than his initial diagnosis, while Scotland colleague Jack Dempsey has returned to training, but tonight’s clash with Benetton will arrive too soon. 

Duncan Weir will also be absent after he was cited for a high tackle in last weekend’s win over the Ospreys. Weir was originally banned for six games but it was downgraded to two games and he will only miss one URC fixture due to a loophole.

Glasgow A plays Edinburgh A next Friday - the day before the Warriors play Ulster - and that fixture will count as part of his suspension, despite it being highly unlikely that Weir would’ve featured in two games in 24 hours.

“The A game is important and is acknowledged by World Rugby so they took that into consideration,” Smith contested. “Basically, it was six weeks, halved for good behaviour and because of the rugby tackle programme you can get another week deducted which makes it two games, it is all about missing games, not weeks. We have this game and the Friday afternoon game against Edinburgh A so he is available for next week.

“Pushed on whether Weir would’ve featured for Glasgow A, Smith argued: “Well, if you look at our track record you can see that we have played players against Edinburgh on Friday and then they were involved in the warmup with the idea that if something happens they can play. We see these games as a chance for some to get more minutes under their belt but it doesn’t mean they couldn’t have taken part in the 18. 

“But this is not our system. It is World Rugby’s system. Any criticism should go to them, not to us. We didn’t try again. We showed them the games that we were going to play and they decided which games he should miss. It was referred to World Rugby, it wasn’t something we or URC were deciding. They determined what games he should miss, not us. These are the games he can qualify for. It’s nothing to do with us. It’s now how we presented our case either. We just present the games and they pick the ones he can’t play. It was nothing to do with Glasgow Warriors.”

Benetton are the only unbeaten team in the URC and Smith has ramped up the mind games ahead of the game by telling Italian media that the visitors will be favourites at Scotstoun. 

“It can be perceived in different ways,” Smith smirked when asked about labelling Benetton ‘favourites’. “We’ve got to concentrate on ourselves and I don’t mind who we play. It will be interesting to see how the Italians handle the favourites tag and how it’s perceived by their coaching group. It doesn’t really matter to us because we are all about bettering our processes. 

“There are lots of things that we weren’t happy about last weekend and even against the Stormers and Connacht. The first part of the season always forms part of the pre-season and everybody will be back next week, who aren’t injured. There will be a good freshness and opportunity to develop everybody. I’m not too bothered about how they perceive my comments.”