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Gregor Townsend: new artificial pitch means there'll be mistakes versus Leinster

Published 09/09/2016

Gregor Townsend expects excitement from the new pitch
Gregor Townsend expects excitement from the new pitch

Glasgow head coach Gregor Townsend feels there will be errors in their game against Leinster because of the newly-laid artificial pitch - but he is sure the change will ultimately provide supporters with an exciting brand of rugby all year round.

The grass pitch at Scotstoun was dug up in the summer after a spate of postponements and mudbaths last season, and Warriors aim to make full use of the faster surface.

Ahead of the Guinness PRO12 visit of Leinster on Saturday, Townsend said: "We have had five sessions this week. The first day was like kids on Christmas Day morning, they were running around excited and a few guys were falling over because they didn't have the right studs on. It was wet that day as well, so there are different conditions on top of the surface that we have to get used to.

"The following day was better and today (Friday), it looked like we were used to it. It will take a number of weeks to really get used to it and know properly, which way the ball will bounce, what it's like in the wet, what it's like in the dry. So we look forward to that, but I'm sure on Saturday there will be some errors from us and the opposition, down to the new surface."

Warriors expect a sell-out crowd of more than 7,000 for their opening home match and Townsend feels the pitch will help entertain fans.

"Firstly, it looks really good," he said. "It looks like we are playing at a proper stadium. There were times last season you didn't want to look at the pitch at all, there were brown patches most places. With the additional stand, it looks like we have a really nice stadium. So that will be nice for supporters.

"It should produce faster games of rugby. We already play at quite a high tempo, so early season it's maybe not going to change much, but months November-February it's going to be quite similar to the beginning and the end of the season. So that's exciting for the supporters, if it's wet, cold and windy, we are still able to play at a high tempo."

Glasgow began their campaign in style with a 41-5 triumph against champions Connacht but Townsend feels there were lots of improvements flagged up in analysis.

And he feels there is no chance of complacency against PRO12 favourites Leinster, who he described as the "benchmark".

"We have to bring the players up again because of the challenge of Leinster," he said. "We have to front up physically, which we did last week, because they really challenge you around the breakdown and they try and play at a high tempo.

"The players will be excited and highly motivated because we're back at home and likely to be a capacity crowd.

"You will get that energy from them but I think we have to raise our focus because of the opponent."

Hooker Fraser Brown is back from injury while Sila Puafisi comes in for Zander Fagerson at tighthead prop.

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