McDowall to captain Glasgow Warriors for first time
Stafford McDowall will lead Glasgow Warriors for the first time in his professional career this weekend, after the centre was named as captain for the EPCR Challenge Cup trip to Perpignan tomorrow night.
The 24-year-old takes charge of a starting XV showing 12 changes from last weekend’s bonus-point victory over the DHL Stormers at Scotstoun, as Franco Smith’s side go in search of a victory that would secure them a place in the last 16 of the competition.
Lucio Sordoni is the sole survivor of the front-row that got the better of the Stormers, as the Argentinian tight-head is joined by Nathan McBeth – making his first start for the club – and Johnny Matthews at the coal face.
Richie Gray returns to the side after missing last weekend’s win at Scotstoun, joining JP du Preez in the second-row – the tallest-ever starting combination fielded in the professional history of Glasgow Warriors.
The back-row sees Euan Ferrie selected for his first professional start at blindside flanker, with Cameron Neild coming into the starting lineup to join a trio completed by Jack Dempsey.
Behind the scrum, Jamie Dobie comes into the team for his first appearance since December’s victory away to Bath, partnering Domingo Miotti in the half-backs.
Sam Johnson returns from injury to start at inside centre, joining captain McDowall in the midfield for his first outing in almost three months.
Similarly, Cole Forbes’s recovery from a neck injury sees the winger included in a matchday squad for the first time since October’s visit to the Cell C Sharks, coming into a back three completed by Ollie Smith and Josh McKay.
On the bench, Angus Fraser is included amongst the replacements for what would be just his second appearance for the club, joining Jamie Bhatti and Simon Berghan as the front-row cover.
Lewis Bean wears the number 19 jersey, whilst Alex Samuel would make his European debut if he comes off the bench at the Stade Aime Giral tomorrow night.
Thomas Gordon completes the contingent of forwards, the openside having recovered from a calf injury sustained during the trip to South Africa in October.
The bench is completed by Sean Kennedy and Duncan Weir, with both men having played a key role in the club’s European campaign to date.
Speaking following selection, Head Coach Smith told glasgowwarriors.org: “Tomorrow is another important step in our development as a squad.
“Whilst we’ve been on a strong run of recent form, we know that there are still areas in which we can improve and it’s important for us to take our lessons while we’re winning.
“We’re also pleased to give Stafford the chance to captain this group for the first time. He is a player who has shown his leadership qualities both on and off the field across this season, and is someone to whom I know this honour means a great deal.”
Glasgow Warriors team to face USA Perpignan at Stade Aime Giral, Saturday 14 January, kick-off 8pm UK time. You can watch the match on epcr.tv, or follow all the action in our Live Match Centre at glasgowwarriors.org.
1. Nathan McBeth (12)
2. Johnny Matthews (36)
3. Lucio Sordoni (7)
4. JP du Preez (11)
5. Richie Gray (93)
6. Euan Ferrie (4)
7. Cameron Neild (3)
8. Jack Dempsey (30)
9. Jamie Dobie (41)
10. Domingo Miotti (14)
11. Ollie Smith (24)
12. Sam Johnson (96)
13. Stafford McDowall (C) (46)
14. Cole Forbes (29)
15. Josh McKay (21)
16. Angus Fraser (1)
17. Jamie Bhatti (79)
18. Simon Berghan (21)
19. Lewis Bean (27)
20. Alex Samuel (2)
21. Thomas Gordon (57)
22. Sean Kennedy (22)
23. Duncan Weir (128)
Unavailable for selection: Fraser Brown (head), Gregor Brown (foot), Scott Cummings (foot), Rory Darge (ankle), Zander Fagerson (hamstring), Oli Kebble (shoulder), Sintu Manjezi (knee), Jack Mann (head), Enrique Pieretto (chest), Ross Thompson (ankle), Murphy Walker (neck), Ryan Wilson (knee).