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Absences fail to deter Glasgow coach Gregor Townsend ahead of new Pro12 season


Gregor Townsend will be without 19 of his 20 World Cup call-ups for Saturday's clash with Scarlets

Gregor Townsend will be without 19 of his 20 World Cup call-ups for Saturday's clash with Scarlets

Gregor Townsend will be without 19 of his 20 World Cup call-ups for Saturday's clash with Scarlets

Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend is looking forward to the start of their Guinness Pro12 defence - even though he is missing a raft of World Cup players.

The Scotstoun boss will see a record 20 recruits depart for this month's tournament kick-off in England.

However, he will have the services of one of those international stars when they take on Scarlets at home on Saturday.

South African-born Josh Strauss does not qualify for Scotland until five days before their opener with Japan on September 23 and has been left at home for the time being to gain some much-needed game time.

However, despite being without so many of his top names, head coach Townsend cannot wait to get the season under way as he plots another assault on the title his team won for the first time with their 31-13 victory over Munster in Belfast back in May.

He said: "We're excited about playing at Scotstoun for the first time this season and we're expecting a capacity crowd to get behind the team.

"Scarlets are a tough side and we know we'll need to be at our best tomorrow night in order to start the season with a positive result.

"We have real depth to our squad and the Rugby World Cup period is an opportunity for our players to show what they can do and we're looking forward to seeing them all represent the club."

The absence of the World Cup call-ups means young second-row Scott Cummings will start against the Welshmen.

The 18-year-old makes his first competitive appearance in the engine room after coming off the bench against Clermont and Canada during pre-season. He starts alongside Rob Harley, who returns from international duty with Scotland after failing to make Vern Cotter's squad.

In total there are 10 internationals named in the starting XV and five on the bench.

Glenn Bryce moves from centre to full-back to make his first competitive start, with captain Peter Murchie partnering Fraser Lyle in midfield.

Scotland internationals Rory Hughes and Lee Jones line up on either wing, while the returning Scott Wight starts at stand-off and Grayson Hart makes his competitive debut for the club at scrum-half after joining from Edinburgh Rugby in the summer.

In the front-row Jerry Yanuyanutawa starts at loose-head, with Mike Cusack given the nod at tight-head and Pat MacArthur at hooker.

Harley and Cummings combine in the second row, while Adam Ashe also returns from Scotland duty and starts at number eight. Strauss moves to blindside flanker, with Chris Fusaro continuing at openside.

Townsend said: "Scott Cummings has worked really hard during pre-season and has earned his start."