A CAMPAIGN that began a mere 355 days ago with a pre-season trip to Ulster finally ends tonight for Glasgow Warriors, and they have every intention of going out on a high.

Danny Wilson could have made sweeping changes for this PRO14 game against Edinburgh had his primary inclination been to experiment, but his selection makes clear that it is the inclination to win which is uppermost in his mind.

The coach’s room for manoeuvre has been restricted to an extent by the lack of depth in some positions, but the principal consideration in his selection was to give another run to something approaching his first-choice line-up. That has been done partly with the start of next season in mind, although after losing his first game in charge last week, Wilson is also very eager to turn the tables on Edinburgh, who have won two out of this season’s three derbies to date.

The three changes to the Warriors starting line-up see George Horne, Stafford McDowall and Tom Gordon come in at scrum-half, inside centre and openside respectively. Horne takes over from Ali Price, McDowall replaces Pete Horne, and Gordon’s promotion is part of a back-row reshuffle in which Matt Fagerson moves to No 8, Ryan Wilson switches to 6 and Rob Harley drops to the bench. Fraser Brown is again captain on his 100th appearance for the team, while four substitutes as well as McDowall were not involved last week.

“When you’ve lost a derby last week and we want to win the next derby - there’s that priority,” Wilson said yesterday after announcing his team. “There’s also the balancing act of still wanting to look at a few players. 

“Seven changes in a 23 is still a fair few changes, because in these games you’re going to use your bench - you’re going to 100 per cent use them and some may come on earlier. But we’ve probably gone a little more toward consistency, giving the boys from last week a chance to go again.”  

A chance to go again, and a chance to avoid the errors which Wilson feels gifted last week’s game to Edinburgh, who were behind at half-time but ended up 30-15 winners. A chance, above all perhaps, for Gordon to make the No 7 jersey his own and emerge from the shadow of the now-departed Callum Gibbins.

“What I’m learning about Tom is that he’s quite a laid-back character, but he is a game animal,” Wilson said of the Scotland Under-20 international, who performed well off the bench last Saturday. “I’m keen to see him start. He’s got work-ons, but he has some real strengths - he’s an exciting player for the future. 

“He sat behind Callum Gibbins the majority of last season and there is an opportunity for him now - but I want him to know that he’s got to grab that opportunity. He did that in part last week and I think he’ll do it again this week. Going against Hamish Watson, a very experienced campaigner and so good on the floor, will be a big test for Tom, but one he’s more than capable of matching.”

Edinburgh lifted the 1872 Cup and qualified for the PRO14 semi-finals as a result of winning last time out, while Glasgow’s last hopes of a play-off place were dashed by the defeat. There is therefore little at stake for the teams in this match, but there is actually a lot at stake for Scottish rugby and indeed sport as a whole, given it will be the first fixture since lockdown was lifted to be attended by supporters. 

No supporters were allowed to attend last week, but this time around 700 fans will be welcomed into Murrayfield, all of them Edinburgh supporters. Recent derbies at the national stadium have had crowds of well over 20,000 at them, with a substantial contingent supporting Glasgow, so the visiting squad will have to take the lack of backing in their stride.

Ten Warriors are unavailable for the game, but the majority will be able to resume training in ample time for the new season - including Mesu Dolokoto, who is now in Scotland and has begun a two-week quarantine, and his fellow-Fijian Leone Nakarawa, who was due back overnight and will also have to self-isolate for a fortnight.