GLASGOW Warriors head coach Franco Smith has urged fans to be patient as he attempts to make his mark at the club following his appointment as replacement to the sacked Danny Wilson at the start of August.

His tenure got off to an inauspicious start on Friday night with Warriors being thumped 33-11 by Benetton in their first competitive match of the 2022-23 season. And given that this was a sixth consecutive loss for the Scotstoun men since they got the better of Newcastle Falcons in the Challenge Cup in mid-April, it is no wonder that supporters are getting increasingly vocal about their frustration.

“I inherited that problem, I didn’t create it,” Smith said. “All I can say is that I’m not a magician. But the fans should come and see how hard these guys train and work.

“And they’ve not been overworked,” he added, in response to the suggestion that his pre-season training regime has perhaps been too demanding of the players.

“If they had been playing a Test match last weekend, I would maybe have agreed but it’s the beginning of the season.

“We can only try to be better every week. It’s difficult from their [the fans’] perspective but you can only imagine how tough it is sitting on this side. We want to entertain and bring contentment to everybody, but in the meantime, we’re struggling to get that continuity without proper preparation.”

In fairness to Smith, his bedding in period has been disrupted by both Glasgow’s pre-season matches against Worcester Warriors and Ulster being cancelled at short notice due to circumstances beyond their control, leaving the team with just one hastily arranged hit out against the semi-professional Ayrshire Bulls Super6 side to get up to speed.

“That was our first real game at the weekend and [we saw] a lot of rust and a lot of actions which we couldn’t coach or criticise or complement before,” said Smith. “Until the game, it was difficult for me to understand how the players react characteristically and from a mental perspective.”

As for the team being under extra pressure to get a result at home to Cardiff this weekend following their disappointing showing versus Benetton, Smith replied: “The players don’t really need motivation. Maybe they don’t understand what needs to be done but they are keen to play, and it is special every week.

“It is not as if this week is different. So, we will see a team that is really motivated and excited to play in front of their crowd. It’s good to get the cobwebs away.

“As a coaching group we’ve managed to get through more in one day than we did in all of pre-season as there’s now actual video footage to tell them what’s right and wrong.

“If you look at the history of successful teams … the Crusaders for many years struggled in the first four or five rounds of Super Rugby because they saw the first part of the competition as part of their preparation,.

“Leinster went through the same patch at the start of Joe Schmidt’s reign there.

“So, sometimes we have to learn, and that takes a bit of match time which we didn’t have. If we were sat here today having played the Worcester game, it would have been a much different picture for us going forward.

“It is unfortunate to have our first game as a winnable game away from home against an Italian team that is on form. They were playing their third game and usually you hit your straps from the third game onwards. We are not in a state of panic.”

Meanwhile, Smith revealed that Scotland prop Allan Dell returned to training yesterday, but that Huw Jones is unlikely to be seen back in Warriors colours until after the break for the Autumn Test window.

“Today was the first day back on the field for Allan. Apart from his ankle injury, he and his family also had a period of sickness for about a week to 10 days, so he’s still recovering from that,” Smith said.

“I think we’ll see him come back in a couple of weeks, hopefully in time to tour to South Africa [in mid-October], but we’ll see how he reacts to the training because he has dropped off the pace. He was really well conditioned before he got injured so it’s a bit of a pity.

“Huw’s got a problem with his back which was injured in the second last match of last season with Harlequins,” he added. “We’re being very conservative around it. For now, it’s in the medical team’s hands, so we just have to be patient. He hasn’t put his boots on yet.

“He’s a player we’ll need in the second part [of the season]. There’s no need for me to rush him. To rush him back for one or two games before the break in November is going to be mismanagement of the player.

“So, we’ll give him the right amount of time so that he can come back with the intent to perform and not just the intent to play.”