ON the face of it, Edinburgh will have everything to play for, Glasgow very little, when they meet at BT Murrayfield on Saturday. The home team are just one point away from the PRO14 semi-finals, while Warriors are one dropped point away from going out.

Needless to say, though, Glasgow’s new coaching team have no intention of turning up at the national stadium as mere cannon fodder. They are confident their players will compete with their usual fervour in the derby, and in any case, if further motivation were needed, there is the fact that their squad has waited a long time without a match for this one. After months of going hungry, their voracious appetite for rugby is about to be satisfied.

“First and foremost, the boys haven’t played rugby in a number of months and they’re desperate to get back on to the pitch,” attack coach Jonny Bell said. “That’s their job: that’s what they do and what they love doing.

“So I think the fact that Edinburgh are going for that semi is in many respects irrelevant to us. They’re a good side and we know we’ve got a big job, but we’re putting Glasgow shirts on and we’re going out against a derby team and for the first time in a long time we’re getting back in as a group.

“We’re desperate to just go out and make sure we perform. We’ve got a new coaching group in, we’re in with this group of players that we’re trying to keep moving forward, so we’re completely and utterly focused on ourselves and it’s about us delivering our best performance.”

After five years as a defence coach with Gloucester, Bell thought it was time for a change of both club and role, and he got his opportunity when new Warriors head coach Danny Wilson offered him the post at Scotstoun. Given Glasgow’s existing prowess as an attacking side, it is a daunting challenge for the former Ireland international centre to take up, all the more so as Wilson’s main emphasis so far has been on the need for greater solidity and structure up at the back. Even so, he is confident that improving the defence need not be done at the expense of the attack.

“That’s always the challenge – it’s trying to get that balance in any team,” Bell said. “It’s about having the ability to maintain that attacking threat when the opportunities are there to attack, whilst having that ability to release pressure and make sure that we have that mindset of being very aggressive defensively. We’re already a very good defensive side.

“All coaches have a mindset about what they favour, and I think [former coaches] Dave [Rennie] and Jason [O’Halloran] had a very attacking mindset. Danny’s not going to alter that attacking belief, because it is, and always has been, part of what Glasgow is. So it’s about just altering that mindset slightly to give the players that little bit of toughness with regards to defence. We’re not just happy to score tries, we’re desperate not to concede tries.”

That tweak, Bell insists, will still leave plenty of room for individual creativity, and for off-the-cuff players such as Niko Matawalu to work their magic.

“You’ve got to understand what you have and there’s no point trying to put a round peg into a square hole,” he continued. “We’ve got guys who in broken play are very dangerous, so through our structures we want to create opportunities for them to thrive.

“We don’t want to be running incessantly for the sake of running. Defences are strong now, so we’ve got to be smart in how we play. Everyone knows that Glasgow are an attacking threat, so they’ll be on red alert. But the beauty of it is that Niko, George [Horne], Ali [Price], all these guys, they are instinctive and that’s sometimes what you can’t coach into the guys. You don’t want to take that away, because that’s what makes them great. There will be times when you get frustrated because they try to pull a rabbit out of a hat, but it’s about getting a balance to that.”

With his considerable experience of coaching defence, Bell has a crucial role to play in finding, then maintaining, that balance. He does not see himself as a novice in his new role, and believes that understanding other specialities is a critical element of being a successful coach.

“Having worked on the other side of the ball, I’ve probably watched more attack than most attack coaches have watched, so it gives me an appreciation that it has to be a joined-up approach. At the end of the day we’re out to try to make this team better, and attack and defence don’t work in isolation. And I’ve never coached in isolation. Yes, you lead in certain things, but we don’t put ourselves in silos and say ‘This is what I do, I don’t want to think about the other side of the game’.”

If Glasgow do succeed in tightening up at the back while remaining just as sharp in attack, they should be a formidable force next season. And if they get the balance right this week and next - when they again meet Edinburgh at Murrayfield in the last game before the play-offs - they will at least sign off a uniquely frustrating campaign on a satisfying note.