SIONE TUIPULOTU is an affable enough fellow, but he closes the conversation down pretty sharpish when asked about Glasgow Warriors’ last trip to Treviso to play Benetton.

“I played in that one, but I don’t like talking about it actually!” he retorts, wincing at the memory of being one of three Glasgow players to give away penalties in the last minute of that match in November 2021, which allowed home stand-off Leonardo Marin to kick his team to a narrow 19-18 victory.

Glasgow will return to the Stadio Monigo for their opening game of the 2022-23 URC season on Friday night and Tuipulotu insisted that he and his team-mates will not fall into the trap of underestimating their opponents.

“It’s a tough place to play,” he stressed. “It’s always a mental challenge as well. You don’t know what to expect from them and they’ve surprised a lot of teams travelling over there.

“I actually think they’re a quality side. In the past few years, maybe people went over there underestimating them, but they deserve respect after winning the Rainbow Cup and some other good results. They’re a good team and we’re expecting a strong outfit on Friday.”

Glasgow’s preparation for the match has been far from ideal, but Tuipulotu doesn’t think the cancellation of their two scheduled pre-season hit-outs – leaving them with just one bounce game against the semi-pro Ayrshire Bulls Super6 side – is an excuse for the team being any more rusty than usual at this stage of the season.

“There’s always an aspect of that at the start of the season, whether you’ve played pre-season games or not,” he reasoned. “Pre-season games are always different to proper league games, and early in the season at half-time or around half-time you’ve got to adapt and make changes anyway.

“We’ve got some experienced players in our side so we’re hoping they can steer the ship for us all. We’re pretty positive about going over there to take on a team that’s been a bit of trouble for us in the past.

“The boys have been ripping into pre-season, with a new style and a new coach, so we’re all just keen to get out there now and try to force some results.

“It’s a good game for us to establish our identity for how we want to play. We have a licence to play a little bit and everyone’s in a good place in terms of conditioning and how we’re feeling physically. It looks like it’s going to be pretty warm and it was raining in Glasgow today so I don’t know if that was the best preparation! But I’m looking forward to it.”

It is the start of what Tiupulotu hopes will be a big season for the club and a big year for himself, which will hopefully culminate in being part of the Scotland squad which competes at the 2023 World Cup in France next September and October.

“I’d say I’m more excited this year than I was last year after having my first season and feeling really settled at the club with friends and family,” said the 25-year-old Australian born and raised centre, who arrived at Scotstoun following a spell playing in Japan, and who qualifies to wear the thistle through a grandmother from Greenock.

“I’m so motivated with all the stuff down the line, but I’ve really locked in my mindset to concentrate on this first six games. I really want to put out some good performances early in the season.

“There’s a lot of competition this year and that’s only going to make us better. Like in any team when you’ve got someone breathing down your neck you’re not thinking about next week or the one after. You’re only thinking about that game or that weekend and how you can perform to keep your jersey.

“I just want to play as much as I can and if I’m on the field more it gives me a better chance to push for more international honours.”

Tuipulotu managed to get home to Australia for a couple of weeks between the end of Scotland’s summer tour to Argentina and the start of pre-season, where he enjoyed catching up with family and managed to watch his little brother, 20-year-old Mosese, play a club rugby match.

“He’s a centre as well and he is at the Waratahs at the moment,” revealed the proud older sibling. “I don’t know if he’s on Scotland’s radar or if Gregor’s had a little look at him. But Gregor has spoken to me a couple of times about him.

“It’s a funny one as my brother is on his own path after growing up being compared to me and vice versa. He wants to run his own race. I’m really supportive of whatever he wants to do. If it were up to me, I’d want him to come here so we could play together, but at the moment he’s got his own plans.”