WITH bonus points removed from the equation as knockout rugby gets underway this weekend, Glasgow Warriors can afford to shift their mindset from one that demands that every attacking penalty means lineout-maul-try. But will we see them kick for the posts more often against the Stormers in their United Rugby Championship (URC) quarter-final?  

“I wouldn’t bet on it, unless it’s a gimme,” reveals Nigel Carolan. And given he’s Warriors’ attack coach, he’s a man that often has a say in such matters.

Attacking rugby has been in the Glasgow DNA for as long as anyone can remember, a philosophy reinforced when Franco Smith was welcomed on board as head coach two summers ago. There may be occasions on Saturday night when the pragmatic thing would be to keep the scoreboard ticking over by taking three points but don’t expect to see it happening too often, if at all.

It’s not just that Glasgow are greedy. It’s more that the confidence that courses through them – even after the wobbles of recent weeks – means that the players will always back themselves to get over the try line, regardless of the occasion or opposition.

Stormers’ record in this competition is hugely impressive – winners in 2022, runners-up last year – but Glasgow bow to nobody. Expect it to be business as usual at the weekend.

“I think it’s important that we don’t go away from what has got us here,” confirms Carolan.

“We’ve got to be true to ourselves – we certainly don’t want to go into our shells and feel that we’ve got to be a lot more conservative.  We do want to transfer pressure onto the opposition and playing in the right areas of the field is massive in knock-out rugby, so we do speak about that – but we can include that as part of our DNA.

“A lot of these calls we try to leave to the players. If it’s an easy three points we’ll take it but it’s up to them. If it’s just outside the 15 [metre lines], whether they go to the corner and back our maul, a lot of those decisions rest with the players.”

Given their visitors are likely to arrive in Scotland with a similar attitude, it ought to make for an open and entertaining contest. A key figure in Stormers’ success is often Manie Libbok, the Springbok fly-half who will look to leave his mark all over the Scotstoun pitch. Warriors, though, are ready for him.

“Stormers are an extremely physical team but they’ve also got massive X-factor and one of the best 10s in the business in Manie Libbok,” adds Carolan.

“I think if you can quieten him and get him off his game they don’t function as well. It’s going to be important we make our presence felt in Scotstoun, make sure there’s plenty heat on him, on both sides of the ball.

“He’s a magician and if you can take some of that flair and magic away you can make them ordinary enough. We’ve got a few guys in our own squad here who were talking about it this morning and how they can make his life a little bit more uncomfortable.”

Good news for Warriors comes in the shape of the latest injury bulletin that reveals that the treatment room is finally emptying after a season littered with long-term casualties.

The hand infection sustained by Stafford McDowall looks like keeping him out of Saturday’s match, while Sione Vailanu and JP du Preez continue in recovery. Beyond that, though, Smith will have a full squad to select from.

“Steyno [Kyle Steyn] is back training and George Turner is back as well so it’s good to have those guys putting their hand up for selection,” confirmed Carolan.

“Max Williamson has passed all his HIA [head injury assessment] stuff so he is back training as well.

“We’re not far off having a full deck again now that we have guys like Richie Gray, George Turner, Huw Jones and all those guys who were longer-term injuries back with us. It just adds to the competition we have in the squad and the challenge is to build them back into the team without losing cohesion.”

Several players will likely be making their final Scotstoun appearances on Saturday, including Turner who is set to move to Kobe Steelers in Japan this summer. That’s a blow for both Glasgow and possibly Scotland but Smith opted for a different slant.

“I would put a positive spin on it,” said the head coach. “I know he’s going to go for a year and then we’ll see.

"You never know, [maybe] he comes back in a year or two. But, in the meantime, if I was Gregor [Townsend], I would see this as an opportunity to see some other guys putting their hands up for responsibility.”