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Miserable sequence capped off by injury

Who says bad luck comes in threes?

Tim Swinson will make his return tonight. Picture: SNS
Tim Swinson will make his return tonight. Picture: SNS

After a trio of home defeats, Gregor Townsend might have hoped his run of misfortunes was over, but the calamitous sequence was extended for the Glasgow Warriors coach yesterday when it was confirmed that Al Kellock is likely to miss the next few weeks because of the arm injury he sustained in last Friday's loss to Cardiff Blues.

The extent of Kellock's problem will not be known until after he has seen an orthopaedic specialist today, but Townsend could not rule out the possibility that the lock's time on the sidelines could extend as far as the forthcoming RBS 6 Nations Championship.

What is certain, though, is that Kellock is the one player Glasgow can ill afford to be without right now, his leadership skills being exactly what the Warriors need in the wake of their early exit from Europe, various off-field issues and some soft losses in the RaboDirect PRO12. They have the opportunity to steady the ship against struggling Treviso at Scotstoun this evening, but they would surely far rather do it with Kellock's hand on the tiller.

Townsend revealed that Glasgow's woes, and especially the 9-7 loss to Cardiff, had led him to conduct a series of meetings with players earlier this week. The exchanges, he explained, were not angry, but they were challenging, with coaches and players all anxious to get the side back into the shape it was in when they were coasting undefeated through the first five matches of the PRO12 season.

"We're in this together as coaches and players and we have to work together to put it right," said Townsend. "I don't have all the answers, the players have more answers than me, so the more we can get out of them the more we can share our learning and our goal-setting for the week ahead and the weeks to come.

"It is tough. It is tough for players straight after a defeat when they have put in that effort and don't get the rewards. When you lose it will hurt for a couple of days and then you focus on your next opponent and go into the game in a really positive mindset. That is what the players have done this week.

"You get a glow of satisfaction after a win Dave Denton decided to stay at Edinburgh despite a difficult second season. that makes the effort feel more worthwhile. And when you lose as an individual you have got that knot in your stomach and you want to put it right as soon as possible. Sometimes you don't get that opportunity because you might not be playing the next week, but that is just the nature of any sport."

At least there has been one piece of good news for Glasgow this week. Tim Swinson, who has been out of action with a chest injury since Scotland's victory over Japan early last month, has been given the all-clear and will start in Kellock's place, partnering Tom Ryder in the Warriors' second row. Scrum-half Chris Cusiter inherits the captaincy from Kellock, but it is doubtful whether he will have acquired any great sense of job security over the past few months.

Since the start of the season, Glasgow have played 13 competitive matches - nine in Europe, four PRO12 - yet Townsend has selected the same half-back combination from one match to the next on only one occasion.

The Warriors were galvanised by their strength in depth last season, but it is hard to avoid the suspicion that their embarrassment of half-back riches - five of their six players covering the positions are full internationalists - counts against the development of stability. As Townsend admitted, there is more need now for a game based on first principles than the high-tempo brand of rugby Glasgow played so effectively at the end of last season.

Townsend said: "It is the basics and fundamentals that win you the game and that is what we talk about every week. It is what we analyse: having an outstanding defence; not beating yourselves; not giving away penalties or giving away the ball to the opposition; creating quick ball at the ruck. Those are the basics and those are what will win you games."

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