DANNY WILSON is confident he has enough second-row cover in his Glasgow squad to withstand the loss of Scott Cummings, who has been ruled out of action for up to two months after needing surgery on a hand.
Cummings, who is set to miss all four of Scotland’s autumn internationals as well as a number of Warriors matches, played on to the end of his team’s home win against the Sharks last week. But he felt a lot worse the following day, and a subsequent diagnosis revealed ligament damage that required an operation. Lewis Bean will now take his place alongside Richie Gray in this afternoon’s URC match against the Lions.
“He played on with it – I suppose adrenalin kicked in,” Wilson explained after announcing his matchday squad. “It wasn’t until after the game that he reported it a bit more, saying he was struggling. And then, as happens, you wake up the next morning and it’s a hell of a lot worse.
“Expert opinion was he needed surgery. He was really struggling with his grip a couple of days after the game, so it was one of those that needed to be done, unfortunately.
“It’s done now. We just need to wait out the time and get him back, and that’s the same for Scotland – unless there’s a miracle, and we’ve seen them recently.
“With Kiran McDonald and Scott being out, we’re two locks down,” the head coach continued. “But Richie is playing well at the moment, we’ve got Lewis Bean, Rob Harley is back on the bench, and then we’ve got young Max Williamson who we’ve had training with us, and we’ve got Hamish Bain returning from injury. So we have the depth there.”
With Exeter’s Jonny Gray currently recovering from shoulder surgery and Edinburgh’s Ben Toolis also on the injury list, Scotland coach Gregor Townsend may not feel quite so sanguine about the pool of second-row talent available to him for the forthcoming matches against Tonga, Australia, South Africa and Japan. The experienced duo of Richie Gray and Edinburgh captain Grant Gilchrist could emerge as the first-choice partnership, though Townsend is also likely to want to give game time to at least some of those locks who were selected along with Cummings for the abortive summer series – Gilchrist’s Edinburgh team-mate Jamie Hodgson, Cameron Henderson of Leicester Tigers, and Alex Craig of Gloucester. And, given the demanding schedule of four Tests on four consecutive Saturdays, several flankers who are capable of moving up to the second row could also be in demand.
In addition to the enforced alteration in the second row for today’s match, Wilson has also made a change in the back row, bringing Rory Darge back after injury in place of Tom Gordon. There are two changes in the backs as well, with centre Nick Grigg getting his first start of the season in place of Sione Tuipulotu, and Jamie Dobie beginning at scrum-half instead of George Horne. Tuipulotu and Horne both drop down to the bench, where they are joined by Matt Fagerson, who has just completed his recovery from arm surgery.
The four new South African teams in the league have been without their international players so far, and have only won one game out of eight between them. But it was the Lions who won that one – away to Italian side Zebre – and Wilson has warned his squad they won’t be able to slacken off in the second half like they did last week against the Sharks.
“I think we should be wary,” the coach added. “Their first half against Zebre was a real warning sign to everybody – they scored five tries by half-time and were cruising. They showed how dangerous they can be and we certainly won’t be taking them lightly.
“If you look at our game last week, we came out the blocks flying, we were outstanding for 50 minutes, and then we tailed right off for a whole host of reasons. We need to know that this is a good team, and respect them, and we’ll have to work hard to get the win.”
Glasgow Warriors (v the Lions at Scotstoun, today [Sat] 3.05pm): C Forbes; K Steyn, N Grigg, S Johnson, R McLean; R Thompson, J Dobie; J Bhatti, F Brown, M McCallum, L Bean, R Gray, R Wilson, R Darge, J Dempsey. Substitutes: J Matthews, B Thyer, M Walker, R Harley, M Fagerson, G Horne, D Weir, S Tuipulotu.
Lions: D Rossouw; S Pienaar, M Rass, B Odendaal, R Maxwane; E Viljoen, A Warner; S Sithole, J Visagie, J du Plessis, R Schoeman, P Janse van Vuren, J Kriel, V Tshituka, R Straeuli. Substitutes: PJ Botha, M Naude, C Sadie, R Nothnagel, S Sangweni, M van den Berg, M More, W Simelane.