SCARLETS coach Wayne Pivac says his team will be respectful of Glasgow Warriors’ home record when they visit Scotstoun for Friday night’s eagerly anticipated Guinness PRO14 play-off semi-final clash – but will also believe that they have nothing to fear.
The Warriors have won all ten games they have played at home in the PRO14 so far this year, and have secured a bonus point in all but one of this encounters. They have yet to concede four tries on home territory.
The visitors will be without Leigh Halfpenny for the clash, after the Wales and Lions full-back suffered a minor hamstring tear, but the men from west Wales have enough firepower across their backline to cause the Warriors serious problems given half a chance.
Pivac believes that his team’s experiences during the last year of playing knock-out rugby will stand them in good stead for this weekend’s challenge. They defeated Leinster then Munster, both away from home, to win the PRO12 last year; and this season they put La Rochelle to the sword in the quarter-final in the European Champions Cup, lost to Leinster in the semi-final, but bounced right back to hammer the Toyota Cheetahs 43-8 in the quarter-finals of this year’s PRO14 play-offs. Which gives them a record of four wins and just one loss from five winner-takes-all showdowns during the last couple of seasons.
“We’re certainly not over-confident, but we’ve been in a few of these situations now in the last 12 months and the boys enjoy it,” said Pivac.“The loss against Leinster we will remember, but we took confidence from [winning the PRO12] last year.
“You see the home record they have, that is clearly the first thing we have to work on,” the New Zealander added. ‘We have to go there and try and do what other teams haven’t done this year which is get a result.
“Over the last few years we have tried to make sure our performances away from home replicate those at home. You don’t have that 16th player helping you on but the way we look at it is that it is an atmosphere whether it is home or away.
“We just have to enjoy the occasion and go out there and play some very good rugby. It is certainly pressure rugby. Discipline is a big part of it and making sure we don’t make too many mistakes, so that we give ourselves an opportunity to win.”
The Scarlets were comfortable 26-8 winners on the only other occasion these two sides have met this season, back at the start of April, but Pivac says it would be a mistake to use that particular performance and result as a barometer of what will happen this weekend.
“The game we played at home was not the best game of the season. We were highly motivated that day. We were doing send-offs for some players who had been great stalwarts for our club. On that day we had a bit more to play for, so I don’t read too much into that,” he explained.
The Barclay factor
One of the players who will be leaving the Scarlets this summer is, of course, John Barclay, the current Scotland captain, who joined the club five years ago from the Warriors. The back-rower has been a key man in the Welsh outfit’s emergence in recent seasons as a serious force in the European game, and he will be desperate to play a central role in making sure his final season before moving back north to join Edinburgh finishes on a high.
“John has been immense since my arrival [four years ago],” said Pivac. “His knowledge of the game is very good. He has shown how good a captain he is when he has led our side. He showed in the semi-final and final last year that he is a very good leader of players. They listen to him and follow him into action.
“Defence is a massive part of John’s game as well as is his communication skills in a game, so he has been a very big player for us over a number of years. We have been pleased to watch him making his way back into the Scotland side and get the captaincy where he has done a great job.
“We continue to wish John well and hopefully we have a couple of more games with him.”
Pivac also fielded question on the recruitment for next season of Edinburgh scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne.
“I think he is just a fantastic player. Every time he has played against us he has caused us all sorts of problems. That goes back to my first year when Edinburgh beat us down here. I think he has a good all-round game and is a smart intelligent rugby player. He is a goal kicker and at a pinch he can play in more than one position. He brings a lot,” said the coach.
“Everybody who comes into the squad gets an opportunity and we select what we believe each week to get a result. He will get plenty of rugby time, no question about that. The nines we have get a lot of game time and sort themselves out when it comes to big games. He will have every opportunity to put his hand up.
“We try and get results for our club and put the best team on the field we can. Part of the role is to help players achieve their goals. If we play a part in Sam becoming a success at international level then that will be a fantastic result for all concerned.”