GLASGOW WARRIORS head coach Dave Rennie has admitted this afternoon’s Pro14 game against Benetton in Treviso is a “must-win”, but that hasn’t stopped him making a raft of changes to his starting fifteen.

A number of players are being rested ahead of next weekend’s game against Exeter in the Champions Cup, which Rennie has admitted is also a “must-win”.

Rennie has made ten changes from the side which lost to Edinburgh at Murrayfield last week, but it is too early for an appearance from new signing, Leone Nakarawa.

Rennie’s side find have struggled to find anything like their best form this season, winning only four league games and as a result, are languishing in fourth place in the in Pro14 conference, 23 points behind leaders Leinster.

And so the head coach is as aware as anyone that if his side are to rescue their season, they have to start picking up wins, starting this afternoon.

And he is confident that even though a number of internationalists have been left out of the line-up, his side will still have enough to win and go on to salvage their season.

“As a group, we’ve had a chat about where we’re at and what we need to do to make sure we’re in the play-offs,” he said.

“It’s still very much in our hands. But yeah – we need to start winning, don’t we?

“It is what it is (with resting players). We’ve known about it for a long time and we’ve planned accordingly. Obviously with the European comp being a bit different this year and the fact we’ve had some big games stacked up on top of each other.

“We’ve just had a couple of really big 1872 Cup games against Edinburgh, so we were always going to have to rest a few guys this week so we can be full strength next week in what will obviously be a must-win against Exeter.”

But Rennie is well aware of the challenge his side will face in Treviso, with Benetton particularly strong at home.

“Benetton are a good team and they’ll be pretty much at full strength. There aren’t many requirements around the Italians in terms of rest protocols,” Rennie said.

“They’ll be desperate for the win as well. They’re a bit like us – they got off to a really slow start during the World Cup.

“They’ve then had a couple of wins against Zebre recently. They’ve got a really good maul – all six tries last week started from five metres out. So that’s a real weapon for them.”

Tighthead prop Adam Nicol gets a rare starting spot, with Zander Fagerson’s form having kept him out if the picture recently. Fagerson has had a quite remarkable run, playing 319 of 320 minutes in the previous four games before being rested this weekend, and so Rennie is pleased to be able to give Nicol an opportunity to show what he can do.

“Adam trained a lot through that period, but Zander has played really well, the games have been so tight and there’s not many tightheads in the world who can do what he’s been doing with the impact he’s having right up until the 80th minute,” he said.

“If we’d been well clear in some of those games, Adam would have got some more game-time. So this is an opportunity for him.”

Also coming in on the front row are George Turner and Aki Seiuli while Tim Swinson returns in the second row.

Bruce Flockhart and Tom Gordon are at blindside and openside respectively while the Horne brothers, Peter and George, also start. Nick Grigg comes in at outside centre and Niko Matawalu and Kyle Steyn come in on the wings.

There is likely to be more changes to the starting line-up in the coming weeks with Warriors finally capturing the signature of Nakarawa earlier this week.

His arrival in Glasgow only two days ago means it will be next weekend at the earliest before the Fijian pulls on a Glasgow shirt in anger, but Rennie’s first impressions are that he is in excellent shape physically, despite not having had a club for the past month since he was sacked by Racing 92.

“He looks in pretty good nick,” said Rennie of the lock.

“We’ll start getting him back into things. Once we get clarity on where he’s at physically, we’ll start making decisions around that.

“He’s been training over the past month. Obviously he was in France and even when I spoke to him and he was heading back to Fiji, we spoke about expectations and so on.

“We don’t envisage that being too much of a problem for him. We’ll test him on Monday and get some clarity around where he’s at.”

The New Zealander does though, he says, have a certain degree of loyalty to the players who are already part of the squad and so he may not choose to throw Nakarawa in at the deep end at the first available opportunity. But whenever he does make his first appearance, Rennie has no worries about his ability to integrate into the team.

“The first thing is we need to make sure he’s ready to go. He’s got a lot to learn in terms of our line-outs and his role within the structures,” he said.

“But he’s a smart man and we think he’ll be able to slot in seamlessly. This time next week, we’ll have a clearer picture.”

Nakarawa’s contract at Glasgow runs only until the end of the season and Rennie, who departs Warriors this summer to become Australia national coach, admits he will not have too much of a hand in negotiating an extension.

But the close ties the Fijian has with the side following his previous stint in Glasgow between 2013 and 2016 means there is every chance he will still be on these shores next season.

“That’s a decision for Danny (Wilson, who will take over from Rennie) and Scotland and Glasgow but he’s really excited to be back,” said the head coach.

“Obviously the fact that he’s been here before, he’s really tight with Ryan Wilson and Niko and I think they were constantly pestering him when he was talking abut departing form Racing.

“He’s got a lot of good mates here, he enjoys the culture and our job is to get him playing really well for us. Hopefully he really enjoys it and wants to stay longer but, as you know, with someone like him, there’s massive demand and huge sums of money involved.”