GLASGOW have signed Tongan international Fotu Lokotui, a back-row forward who can play at either blindside or openside. The 28-year-old, who has 13 caps for his country, was a free agent after leaving Doncaster at the end of last season.

The Warriors, like Edinburgh, have talked of being under a recruitment freeze since lockdown, but it would be more accurate to talk of a budget freeze, and in this case the funds to sign Lokotui have come from the release of Jale Vakololoma, who joined on a two-year deal in July 2019 but did not play for the team during what turned out to be only a single season at Scotstoun. Glasgow have also announced that another back-row player, Bruce Flockhart, who has made seven appearances, has been granted an extended break from rugby to deal with a personal matter.

In terms of the first team, however, Lokotui appears to be a like-for-like replacement for Callum Gibbins, the former captain who left earlier this year. The Tongan may not immediately take on Gibbins’ leadership role, but his versatility should make him a useful member of a back-row group that also includes Rob Harley, Ryan Wilson, Tom Gordon, Matt Fagerson and Chris Fusaro.

“Fotu has really impressed us so far,” head coach Danny Wilson said. “He’s strong over the ball and carries the ball hard into contact, and he’s someone I think the fans will really enjoy watching.

“He’s a very physical six or seven and with the current situation in the back row we needed to add some depth. We’re looking forward to seeing what he can do on the pitch in a Warriors shirt.”

Lokotui, who played for Counties Manukau in New Zealand before joining Doncaster, has already been training with the squad at Scotstoun. “Everyone has made me feel really welcome,” he said.

“If I don’t understand something that’s been said, I know that all I need to do is ask them and they’ll make sure I know what I have to do. I can’t wait to prove myself to the fans, and give my best every time I run onto the field in a Glasgow jersey.”

Glasgow are also set to confirm the signing of South African teenager Connor de Bruyn later this year. The centre was pictured on social media on Thursday wearing an old Warriors jersey, and was congratulated both by his agents and his fellow-centre Jordan Venter, who is joining Edinburgh, on his impending move to Scotland. As De Bruyn will be an academy player and is not expected to figure in the first team for some time, Scotstoun officials plan to make his arrival a low-key one.

Meanwhile, Stafford McDowall has high hopes of earning an extended run in the No 12 jersey this season after being on the fringes for much of the last campaign. The former Ayr player can also slot in comfortably at outside centre, which could prove useful with Huw Jones expected to be primarily a full-back when he is not on Scotland duty. But if given the choice, McDowall would rather concentrate on inside centre, and stands a good chance of getting his wish given the absence of the team’s international contingent for two long stretches of the season.

“I’m happy to play either 12 or 13, but I prefer 12 because I feel my distribution comes in more there, and that I’m able to release players on the outside,” McDowall said. “I feel that’s where my strength is.

“With the internationals going away there’s going to be a big chance to play and get some more minutes under my belt. Last season was frustrating at times not to get more game time, but it’s just the way the game goes. I’m fully focused on this season and getting some more minutes under my belt.

“Momentum is massive. I felt two years ago when I got a run of games and got a bit of momentum - you feel more comfortable on the pitch and those decisions become a lot easier and everything flows for you. So getting a run of games and some momentum would be good.”

Glasgow will announce their team at lunchtime today for the first match of the new PRO14 season, at Connacht tomorrow afternoon.