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Gregor Townsend expects Nick Grigg to make an impact

Published 15/09/2016

Gregor Townsend has made changes for the trip to Wales
Gregor Townsend has made changes for the trip to Wales

Gregor Townsend has tipped Nick Grigg to seize his opportunity in his winning Glasgow team.

New Zealander Grigg will make his first start as Warriors take on Cardiff in Wales on Friday night.

The 23-year-old has made one appearance off the bench but will step up for the injured Sam Johnson (shoulder) at Cardiff Arms Park.

" He had an opportunity when he came over here 18 months ago on trial and he grabbed it," Townsend said.

"He impressed with his enthusiasm, his willingness to learn. What he could do as a rugby player obviously helped.

"Last year when he was on an academy contract he played consistently well for Stirling and really improved the physical side of his game: he has got quicker and much fitter.

"This season as a pro player he has looked really good in training and the pre-season games. He really deserves this opportunity.

"He is a very good tackler, he loves a low tackle. His timing is really good, he likes tackling the bigger guys. He's got very good footwork, strong, so he is hard to defend. And, at 13, he has the pace to beat guys on the outside."

Grigg has a difficult challenge in easing into a Warriors side which has earned opening Guinness PRO12 wins over Connacht and Leinster, but Townsend felt there was much room for improvement in their 33-25 triumph last weekend.

Tommy Seymour proved the difference with four tries - taking his season tally to six - and Warriors now face a Blues side with two victories themselves.

Townsend said: "It's nice to get those two wins but we didn't play as well as we'd hoped to last week. We got a bit of fortune against Leinster, they were the better team in the first half. I'm really pleased with the character and fitness, but we know we have a lot of work to do.

"We're playing an unbeaten team this week who had a great win over in Munster, so this will be a real challenge.

"Cardiff were excellent at the end of last season and they have carried on that form. They have key guys coming back - Sam Warburton, Gethin Jenkins, Alex Cuthbert - British Lions, and they seemed to have really turned a corner. A lot of that is down to Danny Wilson and his coaching staff, who get the team organised but also play ambitious rugby."

Simone Favaro (shoulder) and Henry Pyrgos (knee) also drop out through injury while Alex Dunbar is rested. That means half-backs Ali Price and Rory Clegg make their first starts of the season along with winger Lee Jones and number eight Josh Strauss.

Meanwhile, Finn Russell will make his comeback from a serious head knock for Ayr against Hawick.

"Finn has trained two weeks full contact and worked really hard and can't wait to get back playing," Townsend said.

"If he gets through that game, I would see him being in the selection mix for the Ulster game. It will depend on how he reacts in contact, his match fitness, and what his form is like. But to have him available for round four of the season will be a real boost."

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