THE arrival of Ewan Ashman at Glasgow Warriors yesterday on a loan deal until the end of the 2021-22 season takes the number of hookers in the Scotstoun outfit’s senior squad to five, including four players who have been capped by Scotland – but head coach Danny Wilson insists that this is not overkill.

Ashman has made the move to Warriors in search of regular game time, having managed just 12 first team appearances for Sale Sharks to date since his first appearance for the Premiership outfit last September. The 21-year-old made an instant impact on his Scotland debut earlier this month, when he scored a spectacular try off the bench against Australia, but needs more time in the saddle at club level in order to realise his undoubted potential.

“It’s a short-term arrangement and we’ll see how that progresses, but we can provide the game-time that he needs while also managing the rest of the squad,” said Wilson.

“When you look at the games ahead of us, we’re going to need some squad depth. The next block of games includes Europe, then the Christmas derbies, then back to Europe, plus some really big league matches, so it is going to be a tough 10 weeks without a break.”

Wilson pointed out that 54-times capped Fraser Brown is currently side-lined with a knee injury and not expected back this calendar year, while 19-times capped George Turner (Scotland’s current first choice hooker) struggled with concussion earlier in the campaign and will need to be managed over the next two months ahead of the Six Nations getting under way at the start of February.

Grant Stewart and Johnny Matthews are the other two hookers in the squad. The former has also been capped, while Wilson went out of his way to express his admiration for the latter’s fitness, form and attitude this season, so both are more than capable of doing a job for the team. However, it would take only one or two strokes of bad luck for a surfeit of options to become a chronic shortage.

“There’s the Scotland [national team] angle as well, and to have Ewan playing up here is a benefit in that regard,” Wilson added. “So, all parties are going to benefit, including him if he gets game-time and keeps putting in the performances like he did in the autumn.”

Meanwhile, Wilson admitted that he had reservations about releasing his namesake and captain Ryan Wilson to play for the Barbarians against Samoa at Twickenham on Saturday, meaning that he won’t be able to lead Warriors on their return to United Rugby Championship action away to Benetton that same day. However, he ultimately took the view that the veteran back-rower has earned the right to be given a dispensation on this occasion after two years of relentless service to the club.

“First of all, it’s about Ryan,” said the coach. “It’s tough for us as we want him to play every game for us, but we talked long and hard and he showed huge passion for wearing the Barbarians jersey and pointed out that this could be his last opportunity to do it.

“This is a guy who played every game for us last season bar one when he went to play for Scotland against France, and he’s played every game for us this season. So, in terms of the player deserving this opportunity, you can’t really argue against it.

“He’s really pleased, I’m really pleased for him, and I know that we’ll get the return from that later on in the season.”

The fact that Wilson the coach is comfortable giving Wilson the player this weekend off can also be linked to the fact that fellow back-rower Rory Darge is expected to be in the selection mix again after missing out on the chance of winning his first cap this Autumn due to an ankle injury.

“I’m hoping to get the green light towards the end of the week but he’s on track and should be okay,” said Wilson. “The timing was a bit of a nightmare for him as he would probably have been capped. But his day will come as we all know what a quality rugby player he is and how well he’s started the season.”

Squad depth has also been boosted by Josh McKay, the back-three player from New Zealand who was unveiled as a new signing back in February, finally touching down in Scotland last Thursday, with yesterday his first day in training with the club.

Fellow New Zealander Tom Jordan (centre) and Nathan McBeth (the Scots qualified South African loose-head) also took a full part in yesterday’s training session having been added to the roster during the last month.

While none of these players are in line to play this weekend, they will come into contention during the next few weeks.

“We have a little bit more depth and now we have to look at how we build and manage through that next block of games,” concluded Wilson. “You get them all in the building and you slowly develop over time.”