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Warriors must put their bodies on the line against the Ospreys

ACCORDING to the traditional model, it is the rough, tough guys in the forwards who take the plaudits for courage and ignoring personal safety.

arriors assistant coach Kenny Murray knows that coming up second best against the Ospreys on Friday night could potentially end Glasgow's season. Picture: SNS
arriors assistant coach Kenny Murray knows that coming up second best against the Ospreys on Friday night could potentially end Glasgow's season. Picture: SNS

Just don't tell that to Duncan Weir, the Glasgow Warriors fly-half, who is ready to put his body on the line again despite breaking his nose in the team's last match, against the Scarlets, and then winning an internal award for the best clear-out of the game.

It is the kind of fearless approach the team are going to need if they are to turn their present position in the RaboDirect Pro12 into a spot in the end of season play-offs, and it has drawn praise from Kenny Murray, one of the assistant coaches, as an example to the whole squad.

"That is the kind of commitment and performance we are going to need for the rest of the season," said Murray. "He did really well to knock down Jonathan Davies [the Wales centre] off a lineout - we knew they were going to play off lineouts with the centres coming flat off nine -that's when he broke his nose.

"He did really well after that. We do an awards thing at the end of every game; ball carrier award, the tackler award or whatever. Duncan won the contact clear-out award, which is really good for fly-half. He's a brave wee guy, he has the true warrior spirit."

Certainly, it is the kind of determination and courage that is going to be essential on Friday when Glasgow play the Ospreys in a match that could define their season.

The Ospreys are four points ahead of the Scottish side, who have two games in hand. The arithmetic is simple: a win puts Glasgow just about level with two extra matches to play; a defeat would leave them needing to win both games in hand and still having to chase their rivals on bonus points to have any hope of catching them. In other words, a long shot.

It is something that Glasgow's coaches have been preparing for. "Over the last three or four weeks we have known that the Scarlets and the Ospreys games at home were two season defining matches," said Murray. "We are in a good position with five home games left, plus Treviso and Munster away. If we can win this weekend we are strongly placed not just to compete for the top four but to try to push ourselves up for that home draw.

"It is one of those eight pointers, as they call them. We could drop potentially seven or eight points behind and have to chase them really hard. Those two games in hand, we would have to work hard to get bonus points out of them as well.

"We have watched [Ospreys] a lot, done a lot of analysis. They are littered with quality players and will bring a few more in after resting them from the Six Nations."

Which tells you the scale of the task facing Glasgow. Yet, as Peter Murchie, the full-back, pointed out, they also played the Ospreys at the same crunch time last season and came through that test with flying colours. So Glasgow's players know they are up to the task.

"We know what it takes to win games, not just against the Ospreys," said Murchie. "We have to be at our best, very physical, like the game last season. You want to play these big games: the guys at the top of the table, the semi-final, the final. You want to win stuff. It's the same for everyone."

It is also worth pointing out that when it comes to season-by-season comparison, it was not until this point in last season's campaign that the Glasgow attack really clicked into gear. Inspired by their eight-try demolition of the Newport Gwent Dragons, they went on a scoring spree that helped them romp through their closing games and qualify for the play-offs with something to spare.

The dry ball and hard grounds of the spring campaign undoubtedly helped, and Murray acknowledged that while last season a lot of teams were taken aback by the style of attack and some of the individual brilliance on display from the likes of Niko Matawalu, Sean Maitland and Stuart Hogg, this time opponents have had a chance to do their homework and are much better placed to frustrate the Scots.

"A lot of teams have worked really hard on defending us, they are focusing on some of the channels we attacked last year," he said. "We need to be patient when we get into the finishing zone, we need to keep the ball and be accurate. If we are targeting the top four, our connections, our passing, our accuracy need to be really good, because you don't get many chances against top sides."

Gregor Townsend, the head coach, will announce the team on Thursday, but with Weir declaring himself available he has no new injury worries, while the likes of Ryan Wilson and Ryan Grant, rested after their exertions for Scotland in the RBS Six Nations Championship, will be added to those available for selection along with Al Kellock, the captain, and Maitland who make their returns from injury.

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