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Glasgow semi loss to Connacht still painful ahead of return - Gregor Townsend

Glasgow head coach Gregor Townsend admits the pain of their Guinness Pro12 semi-final defeat in Galway remains fresh ahead of their return to face champions Connacht.

Warriors lost their title with a 16-11 play-off defeat in Ireland in May, two weeks after ending their regular season with a 14-7 loss at the Sportsground.

Townsend admits his players have been driven on by the prospect of reversing the tide following a three-and-a-half-month wait for their third consecutive competitive fixture against Connacht.

"To go back to the same venue against the same team is highly motivating for us as a group," he said.

"The disappointment was really tangible for a few players in the changing room. There were players who hadn't experienced that level of defeat with the club: Jonny Gray and Finn Russell have played in two finals since they have been professionals.

"It was a great day for Connacht and they were deserved winners and deserved champions, but it was a real disappointment on our behalf."

Townsend has since been named Scotland's next head coach since that defeat but he insists all thoughts of going out on a high are put to the back of his mind ahead of Saturday's season opener.

"No, you start afresh and because things are week to week, you have 26 games potentially in a competition, it's a long season with European games as well and you just get focused on the process," said Townsend, who will be replaced by Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie next summer.

"We will wait and see when it comes to the end of the season but for now it's all about starting really well and putting all that work into our performance.

"The fact that the announcements were made a couple of weeks ago, and the future for the club is secure getting in a coach for next season, we are just focused on this season.

"The job for all of our coaches is so all-consuming that you are just focused on the next presentation, team selection, training session, that you can't think about things in two weeks' time, never mind nine months' time."

And the 43-year-old is confident his players have taken the news in their stride.

"We gauge it how they train," he said. "We love the day before a game when the players talk about what they want to do and the goals they set, and they take over. Today was a great example of that.

"I am sure they are looking forward to this season and looking forward even more to when I'm not here the following season."

Scotland internationals Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour and Gray return to the starting line-up after missing Warriors' pre-season fixtures while Italy winger Leonardo Sarto makes his competitive debut.


From Belfast Telegraph