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Signing of Argentinian prop illustrates new spending power of Scotland's pro clubs

As Glasgow Warriors seek to regroup after Sunday's Heineken Cup defeat, old soldier Ryan Grant has welcomed the recruitment of an emergency reinforcement in the shape of fellow international prop German Araoz.

German Araoz has been brought in on a three-month contract to help with Glasgow's front-row injury problems. Picture: SNS
German Araoz has been brought in on a three-month contract to help with Glasgow's front-row injury problems. Picture: SNS

In the latest demonstration of the club's transformed spending power this season, the 27-year-old Argentine has been brought in on a three-month contract to help deal with the club's front-row injury problems.

He will begin training with his new team-mates immediately, but such is Glasgow's improved strength in depth that even with Ed Kalman (back), Moray Low (knee), Jon Welsh (shoulder) and Pat MacArthur (foot) sidelined, they have not had to add Araoz to their squad for this week's make-or-break Heineken Cup meeting with Ulster.

However, his presence also offers an immediate psychological boost as Grant, who, like Araoz, won his first international caps this summer, observed.

"We have a lot of injuries in the front row – we have a lot of injuries throughout the squad – so it is nice to have somebody come in and put a bit of pressure on the boys who are playing every minute like Mike Cusack," said the former Royal Signals man.

It also clears Grant's own mind since his versatility is less likely to be drawn upon, allowing him to concentrate on the job he has done increasingly well on the loosehead side of the scrum since his move to Glasgow from Edinburgh three years ago.

"I played a bit of tighthead with Edinburgh but it has been a few years now and it is not one of those things that you can jump into right off the bat," he noted.

"I will rep a few in training and see how it goes, but [Mike] Cusack has it nailed down so we'll leave him where he is."

That is certainly the case, the bulky presence of Cusack having done a great deal, in the past year, to bolster Glasgow's scrummage and their new-found strength in that department was evident in the way they challenged Northampton last weekend.

"We took on Northampton, we knew that they would try to target our scrum and they did not have any success there," said Grant. "We have a good scrum and are aiming to target them there. We have a weapon and are aiming to use it."

That sets up what promises to be a very physical confrontation with an Ulster side that prides itself on its abrasiveness.

"They are a good pack and have good scrummagers in Tom Court and John Afoa and a couple of other lads," Grant acknowledged.

"We are by no means going to underestimate them, but we are by no means going to shy away from the challenge either. We are at home and aim to show our fans that we have a good scrum."

The signing of Araoz, which comes hard on the heels of the acquisition of Tongan prop Ofa Fainga'anuku, also underlines what was spelled out by Al Kellock on Sunday when he dismissed attempts to use Glasgow's injury list as any sort of excuse for his side's failure to hold on to a 15-point lead in Northampton.

No longer is there the shortage of resources that Glasgow have had to cope with during Kellock's previous six seasons as captain, but that, in turn, ups the pressure on them to turn things around by overcoming last season's beaten finalists at Scotstoun on Friday.

That his players have fully absorbed his message was evident as Grant both reflected on Sunday's defeat and considered the task in hand.

"It is hard to have gone down there, make such a good start and come away without even a bonus point," said the prop. "The boys are pretty gutted, but there were plenty of positives to take. We will review the game and look to fix the problems before we head into Ulster.

"We look at the whole game and there are a lot of positives we can take from the first 35 minutes into the Ulster game. There is also a lot of stuff we need to from either side of half-time that we need to fix if we are to beat a quality side like Ulster.

"It is tough to go down to Franklin's Gardens and get a win but to give away a massive lead like that was really disappointing. They are a tough team and we will aim to fix the problems.

"Everybody knows that in the Heineken Cup you have to win your home games and this is our first home game against one of the contenders to go through. We need to put a marker down, we need to win our home games, it is as simple as that, if we are to go through. We saw last season that we finished a close second in a very tough group but we lost that home game to Leinster and if we had won that, it would have put us through. We know we need to win our home games and that starts on Friday night.

"We can compete against Ulster, we have played against them many, many times before and know they are a quality outfit; Heineken Cup finalists. We are not underestimating them, it is not Everest, we have beaten them before and can beat them again on Friday night."

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