Johnson to captain Glasgow Warriors for first time
Sam Johnson will lead Glasgow Warriors out on to the field for the first time this weekend, after the centre was handed the captaincy for tomorrow afternoon’s clash with Benetton at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo.
The Scotland star, who started in three of his country’s recent Autumn Nations Series matches at BT Murrayfield, takes the reins in the absence of regular co-captains Ryan Wilson and Fraser Brown due to Barbarians duty and injury respectively.
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Johnson leads a starting XV showing five changes from Glasgow’s most recent United Rugby Championship clash, as Danny Wilson’s men go in search of a valuable victory over their Scottish-Italian Shield counterparts.
Jamie Bhatti is the only member of the front-row to retain his place from the meeting with Leinster last month, as George Turner and Oli Kebble come back into the pack to make it an all-Scotland trio.
The second-row is unchanged, meaning Rob Harley and Richie Gray bring over two decades of accumulated professional experience to the engine room ahead of tomorrow’s clash.
Matt Fagerson replaces Wilson in the back-row, joining Rory Darge and Jack Dempsey – who leads the URC in carries after five rounds with 64 – in an all-action triumvirate.
George Horne and Ross Thompson combine in the half-backs, the latter currently sitting fifth on the chart of the league’s leading points scorers in the season to date.
The midfield partnership sees captain Johnson start alongside Sione Tuipulotu, with the newly-capped Scotland international having scored his first try in Glasgow colours on his last match on Italian soil.
Having combined for six tries between them in Scotland’s 60-14 victory over Tonga last month, Kye Steyn and Rufus McLean line up on the wings, with Cole Forbes completing the starting line-up at full-back.
Nathan McBeth is in line to become the seventh Warrior of the season to make his first appearance in Glasgow colours, after being named amongst the replacements by Wilson and his coaching team.
The 23-year-old joins Enrique Pieretto as the cover at prop, with Johnny Matthews wearing the number 16 shirt as the replacement hooker.
Kiran McDonald returns from an injury sustained against Newcastle Falcons in pre-season to be named in a matchday squad for the first time this season, whilst Thomas Gordon covers the back-row.
The youthful duo of Jamie Dobie and Ollie Smith are included amongst the replacement backs, as the experienced figure of Duncan Weir rounds out the matchday 23.
Head Coach, Danny Wilson, said: “We’re looking forward to getting back to playing rugby this weekend.
“Benetton in Treviso is always a very tough fixture – as we found out last season. Their form this season has again been good and we know it will be a huge challenge to get an away win.
“After a good training week back together we look forward to the challenge of getting back to URC league rugby.”
Glasgow Warriors team to face Benetton at Stadio Comunale di Monigo, Saturday 27 November, kick-off 1pm (UK time), live on Premier Sports 1. You can also follow the match in our Live Match Centre at glasgowwarriors.org.
1. Jamie Bhatti (52)
2. George Turner (64)
3. Oli Kebble (60)
4. Rob Harley (255)
5. Richie Gray (66)
6. Matt Fagerson (73)
7. Rory Darge (8)
8. Jack Dempsey (4)
9. George Horne (71)
10. Ross Thompson (19)
11. Rufus McLean (14)
12. Sam Johnson (C) (77)
13. Sione Tuipulotu (5)
14. Kyle Steyn (35)
15. Cole Forbes (11)
16. Johnny Matthews (15)
17. Nathan McBeth (0)
18. Enrique Pieretto (22)
19. Kiran McDonald (37)
20. Thomas Gordon (39)
21. Jamie Dobie (23)
22. Duncan Weir (111)
23. Ollie Smith (8)
Unavailable for selection: Ewan Ashman, Simon Berghan, Fraser Brown, Scott Cummings, Peter Horne, Tom Lambert, Ewan McQuillin.
International duty: Ryan Wilson (Barbarians)