DAVE RENNIE has made ten changes to the Glasgow Warriors team which lost to Edinburgh last Saturday, ahead of tomorrow afternoon’s Guinness PRO14 clash against Benetton at Stadio Monigo.
Four of the changes are enforced with Stuart Hogg (hip), Alex Dunbar (thigh), Peter Horne (knee) and Oli Kebble (chest) all out injured.
The five players who have retained their place in the side are winger Niko Matawalu, stand-off Adam Hastings, hooker Grant Stewart, second-row Tim Swinson and blindside flanker Ryan Wilson, who captains the side.
Given that this will be Hastings’ fifth consecutive start for the club, it would appear that he is set to be rested for next weekend’s Champions Cup clash against Cardiff Blues at Scotstoun. Under the SRU’s protocol for protecting international players, Scotland squad members are only allowed to play a maximum of five games in a row – which perhaps gives an indication of how important this game has suddenly become for a Warriors side whose lead at the top of Conference A of the PRO14 has now reduced to just two points ahead of Munster.
They are up against a Benetton team who are no mugs, having emerged during the first half of the season as genuine play-off contenders in Conference B, where they are currently in third place having picked up six wins from six outings so far.
“We’ve had a good week of preparation and are looking forward to the challenge of Benetton away,” said Rennie. “Keiran Crowley has done an excellent job around recruitment and development and they are now a genuine play-off contender.
“Our strength has been our ability to convert opportunities, but we haven’t been clinical enough over the past couple of weeks making more handling errors than in the previous five games. That needs to be better this week,” he added.
Glasgow Warriors (versus Benetton Rugby at Stadio Monigo, Saturday at 2pm, live on Premier Sports): Ruairdh Jackson; Robbie Nairn, Stafford McDowall, Sam Johnson. Niko Matawalu; Adam Hastings, George Horne; Jamie Bhatti, Grant Stewart, Siua Halanukonuka, Tim Swinson, Scott Cummings, Ryan Wilson, Chris Fusaro, Adam Ashe. Substitutes: Kevin Bryce, Alex Allan, D’Arcy Rae, Rob Harley, Matt Smith, Nick Frisby, Brandon Thomson, Lee Jones.
Benetton Rugby: Jayden Hayward; Angelo Esposito, Tommaso Benvenuti, Luca Morisi, Monty Ioane; Tommaso Allan, Dewaldt Duvenage; Nicola Quaglio, Hame Faiva, Simone Ferrari, Irné Herbst, Dean Budd, Sebastian Negri, Giovanni Pettinelli, Abraham Steyn. Substitutes: Tomas Baravalle, Cherif Traore, Tiziano Pasquali, Federico Ruzza, Marco Lazzaroni, Tito Tebaldi, Ian McKinley, Marco Zanon.