Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

New-look side to take on Zebre

Coach Gregor Townsend hopes his debutants can prove their worth against Zebre

Glasgow head coach Gregor Townsend could hand six players their debuts in the RaboDirect Pro12 clash against Zebre at Scotstoun on Friday night.

South African number eight Josh Strauss will start following his recent arrival from Super XV side the Lions, with fellow recent signings Niko Matawalu, the Fiji scrum-half, and Tonga prop Ofa Fainga'anuku on the bench.

Former Border Bulldogs and Scotland Sevens centre Byron McGuigan and Elite Development players Fraser Thomson and Sean Kennedy also make their competitive debuts.

Former All Black Angus Macdonald will also make his first competitive start having come off the bench in recent weeks with fellow flanker Chris Fusaro. Townsend has made 13 changes to the starting team that beat Connacht 27-17 last week, with Stuart Hogg on the bench after recovering from an ankle injury.

Townsend said: "First and foremost, we've picked a team that we strongly believe has the right attributes to win Friday's game against Zebre.

"There's real experience in the shape of players like Graeme Morrison, Ruaridh Jackson, DTH van der Merwe, Tom Ryder, Tim Swinson, Angus Macdonald and Josh Strauss, while the younger players we've included have all made a great case for selection with the attitude and ability they've consistently shown since pre-season began back in June.

"The nature of modern professional rugby is such that you need to have a large group of players all capable of stepping up and delivering when the situation demands.

"We're fortunate this season to have such a good amount of strength in depth, and the players we've brought in this week have all been chomping at the bit to get out there and prove they're worthy of regular selection.

"Our aim is to be competing at the business end of both the RaboDirect Pro12 and Heineken Cup season, and as such we have to manage the workload of our players while maintaining a high level of consistency on the pitch regardless of the team we send out.

"We have a lot of faith in the side that will take the field on Friday, both individually and collectively. Zebre are yet to win in the RaboDirect Pro12, but they pushed Connacht very close and we know how tough a match we had with the men from Galway."

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