Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 10 July 2014

Townsend expects tough Toulon test

Gregor Townsend, pictured, is looking forward to the clash with Toulon

Glasgow head coach Gregor Townsend says his unbeaten Warriors side will face their toughest test yet when they take on European champions Toulon on Sunday.

The Scotstoun outfit have won five from five in the RaboDirect PRO12 this season but kick-off their Heineken Cup campaign in France against the reigning champions.

Townsend knows the side skippered by Jonny Wilkinson will offer a bigger challenge than any of the opponents they have faced so far.

He said: "We've been pleased with our league form so far this season and we would like to continue that in Europe, but this is the ultimate test for us.

"Playing the defending champions away from home is something we've been looking forward to since the beginning of the season.

"Stade Mayol is a wonderful arena to play in and playing such a quality side in the first game is a fantastic challenge for our squad.

"As a player you want to play in these kind of games and test yourself against some of the best players in the world.

"It's a privilege to be involved in such a game and I wish I could have selected all of our players. The 23-man squad are aware of the opportunity that awaits them in France."

Townsend has made seven changes to the side which beat Scarlets 17-12 last weekend, with Tommy Seymour, Ruaridh Jackson, Henry Pyrgos, Dougie Hall, Jon Welsh, Jonny Gray and Josh Strauss all coming into the side.

Duncan Weir, Pat MacArthur, Moray Low and Richie Vernon drop to the bench, while Chris Cusiter, Rob Harley and the injured Sean Lamont are not involved this weekend.

Glasgow have been dealt a blow with the news Stuart Hogg faces a spell on the sidelines, and it could also spell bad news for Scotland.

The 21-year-old British and Irish Lions full-back has undergone wrist surgery and Glasgow are braced to be without him for the foreseeable future.

The club said in a statement: " Hogg has undergone an operation on a wrist injury he picked up playing in the recent win against Leinster. He is expected to to be out of action for several weeks."

Scotland play Japan, South Africa and Australia in November, with Hogg's participation now in doubt.

His fellow Glasgow full-back Peter Murchie faces a longer lay-off, the 27-year-old having been ruled out for up to six months after surgery on a dislocated shoulder he suffered while on duty for Stirling County in September.

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