While a certain Glasgow football team seem to have gone off the boil like a wonky tea urn following the winter break, the coach of the city’s rugby side is confident his troops will return to action with considerable gusto after a period of rest and recuperation.

Dave Rennie’s Glasgow Warriors get back to PRO14 business tonight against Zebre following a spell of inactivity.

Prior to the shutdown, the Warriors had been building up a decent head of steam even though their Champions Cup ambitions would be thwarted.

A thumping win in Treviso on PRO14 duty was followed by an epic Champions Cup draw with Exeter Chiefs before a final flourish at Sale brought their group campaign to a close.

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Momentum was certainly gathering pace but Rennie was more than happy for a prolonged pit-stop.

“We played really well in the month before the break but I still think it has come at a good time,” he said. “We had 22 weeks of consecutive playing

or training so physically it was good to recharge. Everybody has come back in full of beans and in good nick. It’s good to have them freshened up physically and mentally. We’re ready to go.”

Tonight’s tussle will see Leone Nakarawa make his first appearance at Scotstoun since re-joining the Warriors last month, while George Horne, Tom Gordon and George Turner have all been released from the Scotland squad with the Six Nations on hiatus to play against Zebre.

Meanwhile, the void left by Zander Fagerson’s international commitments, as well as one or two injuries, means Oli Kebble will move from loose-head prop to tighthead.

“We have four tightheads injured or unavailable so he has put his hand up,” said Rennie of Kebble’s role. “He’s a big man, powerful and has scrummaged on the tighthead the last couple of weeks and that’s gone really well. It is a different challenge for him but we expect him to do a good job for us.”

 

The Warriors sit fourth in their PRO14 group, seven points behind the Cheetahs who occupy the third and last play-off spot.

There is still a heck of a lot rugby to be played – 11 matches to be precise – but Glasgow can ill afford any slip-ups.

Even though they lose a number of key players to fight on the Six Nations front, the Warriors have, historically, prospered at this time of the year with a pool of players who have stepped up to the plate.

Rennie is confident his troops will rise to the challenge again and embrace the pressure.

“We’ve got to play a lot of the teams ahead of us which gives us the chance to haul them in,” he said. “But there’s not a lot of margin for error.

“We fronted really well against Treviso and then in our two European games [against Exeter and Sale] we figured they were must-win and that’s how they turned out. I think the added pressure is good for us.

“They’re a tight group of players and they are good mates on and off the field. They understand the importance of getting it right. We play a lot of this chunk of the year without the international boys. We’ve got nine missing still but it’s nice to get a couple of guys back.

“We’ve got good depth and we want to see evidence of that against Zebre.”