DANNY Wilson believes he is close to deciding on his first-choice Glasgow side to begin the United Rugby Championship, but insists he will make some pivotal decisions only after seeing how the team go in tonight’s friendly with Worcester.

The Warriors’ Covid problems have cleared up considerably, but they still have a substantial injury list to contend with, while some of Wilson’s summer signings have yet to arrive. Even so, some areas of the team to take on their English namesakes look impressively strong, and after a particularly trying first season at the helm, the head coach appears to be increasingly confident about the quality of his squad as the countdown continues to the first URC fixture against Ulster in a fortnight’s time. 

“From what we have in the building and have available, I would say we’re getting closer,” Wilson said yesterday when asked how near his selection for the game at Sixways was to his first choice. “It’s definitely building towards that, but we still have decisions to make after this game.”

One particularly vital decision over the coming months will be who to start at stand-off. Duncan Weir, who is on the bench tonight against his old club, has the experience and the proven track record, while Ross Thompson showed on coming into the team last season that he has a maturity beyond his years, and the imminent arrival of summer signing Domingo Miotti from Argentina will only stiffen the competition.

HeraldScotland:

“We gave Duncan a start last week at ten, Ross a start at ten this week,” Wilson continued. “Duncan comes in knowing Ross was the performing ten at the end of last season. We had a good run of games, good wins, including the Leinster win where Ross played a massive part in the game. He has kicked on from a young academy ten to showing he can start week in, week out at that standard. 

“[We have] Duncan, Ross and Domingo Miotti when he comes back from Argentina. That will make my job a lot harder, and the selection meetings a lot harder, but that’s what we want in any position.”

Having seen Huw Jones make the successful transition from centre to full-back last season, Wilson now aims to do something similar with Stafford McDowall, although perhaps only in the short term. With Jones having left, new signing Josh McKay yet to arrive, and other players on that injury list, the coach has few options in the back three in general, and at 15 in particular. McDowall has played there before, so it is not a wildly experimental decision, and in any case Wilson is confident that he has all the qualities required to make a success of the move.

“Last year we experimented with Huw Jones and that paid off, and now we’ll experiment with Stafford, who we’re all pretty confident will be good. His kicking game is excellent, he’s a good leader, he can step up as a second receiver, he can beat people, he’s got good hands, his defensive work is good as well. 

“So there are lots of reasons why he’s worth having a look at. And if I’m brutally honest, we are very light in that position.”

McDowall’s move allows Sam Johnston to return at inside centre after sitting out last week’s 12-7 defeat by Newcastle, while scrum-half George Horne is also back in the starting line-up. Up front, tighthead prop Simon Berghan will be making his first appearance since his close-season move from Edinburgh, and Scott Cummings, primarily a lock, is in the back row in place of the injured Kiran McDonald.

HeraldScotland:

The 15-man bench includes Jack Dempsey, the Australian international, who will be making his debut if he comes on, while loosehead prop Brad Thyer, who is on loan from Cardiff, could also make his first appearance. Stirling County Super6 winger Logan Trotter, an impressive debutant for the Warriors last week, is out after dislocating a finger in training.

 

Glasgow Warriors (v Worcester Warriors at Sixways, tonight 7pm): S McDowall; R McLean, S Tuipulotu, S Johnson, C Forbes; R Thompson, G Horne; T Lambert, J Matthews, S Berghan, L Bean, R Gray, S Cummings, R Darge, R Wilson. Substitutes: G Stewart, B Thyer, M McCallum, M Walker, M Williamson, R Harley, R Jackson, T Gordon, J Dempsey, J Dobie, D Weir, F Callaghan, P Horne, N Grigg, O Smith.