FRANCO SMITH has shown in his team selection for the first competitive match of his tenure as head coach at Glasgow Warriors that he is determined to have his stamp will be writ large over everything the team does.

He has handed debuts to three players, and while the selection of fellow South African Sintiu Manjezi at blindside flanker was not a major surprise given that the 27-year-old was a well-publicised signing from the Blue Bulls at the start of the summer, the other two new faces are slightly more from leftfield. Tight-head prop Lucio Sordoni, who floated into Scotstoun under the radar six weeks ago on a short-term deal as cover for fellow Argentinean Enrique Pieretto, is named in the starting fifteen ahead of 2021 British and Irish Lions Fagerson.

While New Zealander Tom Jordan came to prominence playing for Ayrshire Bulls in Super6 and signed his first contract with the Warriors in November 202 but did not feature at all for the club during the second half of last season.

“Sintu and Tom are two guys who have trained well and performed well in pre-season,” said Smith. “It was always in the plan last week to play them against Ulster [before that game was called off in response to Queen Elizabeth’s death] and they deserve to have that continuity.

Smith added that he does not see Smith as a stop-gap selection in the No.10 jersey while Scotland cap Ross Thompson (back) and Argentinean cap Domingo Miotti (hamstring) are injured.

“I think he can really compete there,” said the coach. “He’s not had a chance last year for numerous reasons. With Ross being out and Domingo having a slight hamstring problem this week – it’s not serious at all but I didn’t want to risk him especially with a 6-2 bench – we’re comfortable to see Tom out there. Maybe last week would have been a better opportunity but I have 100-per-cent confidence that he can surprise us.”

Turning his attention to Sordoni, Smith confirmed that the 24-year-old is playing for a longer-term deal with the club.

“He’s trained excellently in pre-season, lost a lot of weight, is physically a strong man, is good around the park, a good carrier with good defensive capabilities,” said Smith. “Scrum-work is obviously what Argentinians are known for. He’s definitely someone that can make a difference in the long run.”

The selection of Matt Fagerson – who has tended to play only No.8 since graduating to senior rugby – at openside flanker also highlights Smith’s determination to do things his own way. There’s a tendency in world rugby that the hooker must put the ball in the line-out, the scrum-half must put in at he scrum, a No.6 carries and a No.7 fetches . . . I don’t think so,” said Smith.

“If you look across the board, good players can jump in the line-out, they can fetch, they can carry well. I think Matt is a good rugby player who has No.7 characteristics, but I also want good ball carriers who can get over that advantage line. So, I am excited to see him in that role. We are going to change the look and the shape of Glasgow Warriors, trying to build our own new thing, and I’m definitely not concerned about the number on the player’s back.”

Elsewhere, captain Kyle Steyn starts on the left wing, while Sione Tuipulotu partners Stafford McDowell in the centre. Smith has named a strong bench, featuring six Scotland caps, including two Lions in Fagerson and Ali Price.

“Throughout my coaching career I’ve learned that you have to be in the game in the last 20 minutes – that’s the most important part of the game and we want players out there with the same intent as at the start,” he said, before stressing that Glasgow’s disrupted pre-season schedule will not be an acceptable excuse for the team failing to deliver to the level he expects.

“I have great expectations to see the players put their hearts out there on the field,” he concluded. “They might get the game-plan wrong, they can even drop some passes – so long as the way we fix our problems shows the intent to be strong in contact.”

Meanwhile, well-travelled Scottish scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne is set to make his Benetton debut in this match off the bench.