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Jonny Gray to lead out Warriors for first time

New Glasgow captain Jonny Gray will lead out the Warriors for the first time since being handed the captaincy when they take on Cardiff Blues on Saturday.

The Scotland lock is one of six World Cup stars who return to action for Gregor Townsend's side after they came so close to a semi-final slot.

Along with Gray, Stuart Hogg, Mark Bennett, Finn Russell, Josh Strauss and Ryan Grant are all included in the matchday squad after playing a key part in the Dark Blues' England 2015 bid.

The reigning Guinness Pro12 champions have had an indifferent start to the defence of their title, losing three of their opening seven matches while their World Cup players were down south.

But Townsend cannot call on 15 fully-capped internationalists as he prepares for Saturday's duel at the Cardiff Arms Park.

The head coach said: "Cardiff Blues have been on the road for a few games and could be boosted by the return of Welsh internationals, so we're expecting a very tough match tomorrow afternoon.

"The Arms Park is a special place to play and the artificial surface tends to promote high-paced rugby.

"This week we once again welcome back another group of Scotland internationals, which means competition within our squad is increasing all the time."

Hogg returns at full-back with Tommy Seymour - another who featured for the Scots as they suffered a controversial quater-final exit at the hands of Australia - moving to the left wing in place of Sean Lamont.

Australia international Taqele Naiyaravoro comes in for Lee Jones on the opposite side.

Bennett returns to make his first appearance in a Glasgow Warriors shirt since March and he partners another Scotland colleague Peter Horne in midfield, with Richie Vernon not involved this weekend.

Russell replaces Duncan Weir at stand-off and Grayson Hart comes in for Mike Blair at scrum-half.

It is the same front row which started last weekend's win over the Ospreys, with Gordon Reid, Pat MacArthur and Sila Puafisi combining.

Gray partners Leone Nakarawa - another to taste World Cup action after featuring for Fiji - in the second row.

Strauss returns at blind-side flanker, while Chris Fusaro is at open-side and Adam Ashe starts at number eight, with Ryan Wilson moving to the bench.

Grant returns from the hamstring injury which ended his tournament prematurely and is named amongst the replacements.


From Belfast Telegraph