Scottish rugby's need to innovate to remain competitive on the world stage was reinforced yesterday when Glasgow's coaches announced that Roland Reid has officially been switched from their forwards to their backs.

Something of a supporters' campaign for that to happen developed last season after that suggestion was made in The Herald following the South African born, Scotland-qualified 22-year-old's performances as an emergency winger.

That was on the basis that as well as having recorded the fastest sprint times by any Scottish professional player, Reid boasts, at 6ft 4in and approaching 18 stones, the sort of physique required to break down modern international defences.

However, after listing him among the backs on the bench for tonight's visit of Ulster to Hughenden, Rob Moffat, the squad's backs' coach, stressed that, while the national team management had also offered advice, it had been Reid's choice to switch.

''A few people have had an input, but the main thing is that, after discussions, Roland has made the decision,'' he said.

''He has the physical attributes to play in the back-row or the pace to play further out and he played on the wing in South Africa before coming here, so it's not a complete change for him.''

As they line up tonight, however, it is Reid's brain rather than his brawn they hope to use to best advantage, since he and Graham Beveridge, their international scrum half, undertook a spying mission to Belfast last week, reporting back that while Welsh/Scottish League cham-pions Swansea may have been under strength, Ulster were none the less impressive in putting them to the sword. While forced into three changes, the home side are very close to full strength, Lee Harrison picking up a rib injury in Dublin last week and Steve Griffiths rolling an ankle in training, allowing Cameron Blades and Nathan Ross, Glasgow's new Australia recruits, to make their home debuts, while Iain McInroy comes in on the wing in place of Rory Kerr, who has suffered a minor knee injury.

All three performed well after coming on as second half substitutes last week, as did Gordon Ross, who gets his chance to show his play-making ability from the off against Connacht.

However, while this is an important opportunity for Ross, pitting his skills head-to-head with Eric Elwood, the Irish internationalist, at a time when he is one of four recognised No.10s on Edinburgh's books, he stressed that team considerations must come first.

''Aspects of the display against Munster were obviously disappointing and the target must be to perform the way we did when beating Saracens the previous week at Goldenacre.''

Glasgow team to meet Ulster at Hughenden (ko 7.30)

G Kiddie; J Steel, J McLaren, A Henderson, I McInroy; T Hayes, A Nicol (captain); C Blades, G Bulloch, D Hilton, N Ross, J White, G Simpson, D Macfadyen, J Petrie. Replacements - G Scott, B Prescott, C Stewart, G Flockhart, C Black, J Stuart, R Reid

Ulster P Wallace; J Topping, J Bell, A Lucking, T Howe; D Humphreys, B Free; J Fitzpatrick, P Shields, S Best, J Davidson, G Longwell, D Allen, A Ward, T McWhirter. Replacements - R Weir, C Boyd, M Blair, R Nelson, K Campbell, R Constable, N Malone

Connacht team to meet Edinburgh in Galway (ko 6.15)

G Duffy; P Duignan, D Yapp, T Allnutt, A N Other; E Elwood, C Keane; D McFarland, M Uijs, P Bracken; R Frost, M McConnell (captain), M Swift, D Dillon, P Neville/C Rigney. Replacements - R McCormack, T Kearns, D Browne, J O'Connor, P Neville/C Rigney, M McHugh, E Reddan

Edinburgh C Paterson; C Murray, M Di Rollo, C Howarth, C Sharman; G Ross, I Fairley; A Jacobsen, S Scott, C Smith, M Jolly, R Metcalfe, D Mackinnon, M Leslie, S Taylor. Replacements - P Robertson, G Whittingham, A Dall, G Dall, D Short, D Hodge, D Lee