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Lamont has central role in thwarting French side

Sean Lamont would prove his durability by starting all 11 Tests Scotland played last year and the veteran back - he turned 33 on Wednesday - looks handily placed to extend that sequence of appearances when the RBS 6 Nations Championship gets under way next month.

Jonny Wilkinson arrives in Glasgow as part of the Toulon side to face Warriors at Scotstoun. Picture: SNS/SRU
Jonny Wilkinson arrives in Glasgow as part of the Toulon side to face Warriors at Scotstoun. Picture: SNS/SRU

At a stage of his career when he might have been expected to start taking things a little easier, Lamont will quite literally take centre stage for Glasgow Warriors against Toulon at Scotstoun on Saturday. Lamont will move from the wing position he occupied in his try-scoring return to action against Exeter last weekend to the midfield, where he will form a burly pairing with Alex Dunbar.

It is not hard to guess head coach Gregor Townsend's reasoning for the switch. As Toulon's first-choice centre partnership is made up of Matt Giteau and Mathieu Bastareaud - Maxime Mermoz is there as back-up as well - there was a clear need for physicality and experience in that area of the pitch. When Toulon beat Glasgow 51-28 in the Stade Felix Mayol last October, four of their six tries came from Giteau and Mermoz.

Lamont's prospects of involvement in the Six Nations were in doubt early last month when he suffered ankle ligament damage in Warriors' RaboDirect PRO12 victory over Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium. However, he made a rapid recovery and looked as sharp as ever on his comeback game against Exeter at Sandy Park.

Glasgow still have a remote chance of reaching the last eight of the Amlin Cup, although it would likely require a bonus-point win against the reigning European champions, and favourable results elsewhere, for that to happen. They cannot rely on Toulon taking things easy either, after the French side secured their own passage into the last eight of the Heineken Cup with an impressive win over Cardiff Blues last weekend, and they are rather keen on adding to that achievement by securing a home quarter-final if they can.

"We are focused on the game in Glasgow," said Pierre Mignoni, the Toulon assistant coach. "We need a win to play our quarter-final in the Mayol. We have fantastic memories of the quarter-final against Leicester last year - it was a fabulous occasion. We want to experience those kind of moments again this year.

"There are no such things as little games. We beat the Scottish side comfortably in the first round but it's very hard to beat them when they are at home, plus they've just come back from Exeter with a win. We have to give the best of ourselves and show an unbreakable determination."

Toulon suffered a blow yesterday when Ireland flanker Sean O'Brien confirmed that he had resisted their overtures and would be extending his contract with Leinster. However, it is understood that Jamie Heaslip is still in their sights, their purchasing power enhanced by the £60m tele­vision deal the Ligue Nationale de Rugby - the French clubs' association - has just signed with Canal+.

Glasgow's pockets may not be so deep, but there are signs that Townsend might now know what his best team actually is. Barring the injuries which have robbed the team of such players as Al Kellock, Josh Strauss, DTH Van der Merwe, Tommy Seymour and Peter Horne, the side chosen for tomorrow's game is close to what most would consider to be the Warriors' strongest team.

The most welcome indication of continuity is at half-back, where Henry Pyrgos and Ruaridh Jackson will start for the second successive game: a rare scenario this season. For Pyrgos, it is at least some consolation after his shock omission from Scotland's Six Nations training squad earlier this week, while Jackson's appearance will be his 100th competitive outing for Glasgow. James Eddie, at blindside, will also join the select group of Warriors centurions this weekend.

"It will be a special day for both Ruaridh and James," said Townsend. "They continue to be great servants for the club. We still have a chance of qualifying for the Amlin Challenge Cup and that is a big motivation for us."

Glasgow Warriors (v Toulon, Heineken Cup, Scotstoun Stadium, tomorrow, 3.40)

S Hogg; S Maitland, S Lamont, A Dunbar, N Matawalu; R Jackson, H Pyrgos; R Grant, P MacArthur, M Low, L Nakarawa, T Swinson, J Eddie, C Fusaro (capt), R Wilson

Subs: D Hall, J Yanuyanutawa, E Kalman, T Ryder, T Holmes, C Cusiter, D Weir, R Vernon

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