Glasgow coach Kevin Greene sounds rather pessimistic in conversation with JOHN BEATTIE

KEVIN Greene, Glasgow's New Zealand coach, is, you suspect, playing things down. To many, a strange-looking Glasgow team goes into Wales to seek a result against a Newbridge side, who, on paper, are not doing well.

Greene, who has coached Waikato to a win over the Lions, is looking for underdog status on this one before a tackle has been made, a ball kicked, or a body stomped on in a ruck. Hard men talk straight, and Greene, on the face of it, either doesn't fancy his side's chances, or else he wants to force a reaction from his players.

``It is tremendously exciting going into our first game in Europe, but our preparation has been difficult,'' said Greene. There has been preparation, but not by way of games. The squad have been strutting their stuff in sessions twice weekly as a build-up, but now they face a club side who have been playing week in, week out, and at a much higher level than Glasgow's players.

``Most of the players are in clubs in the Scottish second division, which is not a high level at all,'' admitted Greene. ``The others are from Stirling County and it is a worry that County have not been playing well.

``But I have seen teams come together and gel in a short space of time. We mustn't be negative. Newbridge are not doing well, but I have to say that we should have had data and perhaps even videos of them, which we haven't, so it has been awkward getting ready.''

There is talk of Glasgow using these games to prepare for the Inter-District Championship later in the year, so that the big city can finish in the top three districts and get a place in the top flight of Europe next season, but there is more to it than that. This series of games is the rehabilitation of Glasgow rugby. ``We have strength in the back three of Glenn Metcalfe, Kenny Logan, and Derek Stark, and we have tried to introduce some young guys to plan for the future,'' said Greene.

He is more than ably assisted by his former Waikato charge Gordon MacPherson, the forwards coach at West of Scotland, and from what I saw of a practice at GHK the other night there will be an attempt to keep the ball moving and transferred out of contact.

Whether a hardened Welsh side will allow that is another matter and it is a huge responsibility on some relatively young shoulders to ensure that Glasgow can play through the inevitable Welsh violence. They will have to learn to act as tough as the opposition.

``Harri Bassi is a good tackler, and young Alan Bulloch beside him is a good prospect,'' pointed out Greene, suggesting the pair will have to drop a few bodies tomorrow.