Squad named for pre-season opener
Glasgow Warriors Head Coach Franco Smith has named a 30-man squad for tomorrow night’s pre-season opener against Ayrshire Bulls in Inverness, in a match that doubles as Smith’s first fixture in charge since taking over at Scotstoun this summer.
The team news follows last night’s confirmation of the Bulls as tomorrow night’s opponents at the Caledonian Stadium, following the withdrawal of Worcester Warriors late yesterday afternoon. Tickets and car parking purchased for the original fixture remain valid.
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Fresh from being announced as club captain earlier this week, Kyle Steyn will lead out his team for the first time tomorrow night as part of a starting XV containing seven internationals for the fixture, which also serves as part of the centenary celebrations for Highland RFC.
One of those internationals, Simon Berghan, lines up at tight-head, joining Nathan McBeth and Johnny Matthews – last season’s top try-scorer – in the front-row.
Richie Gray is the most experienced Warrior named in Smith’s starting lineup, the 2013 British and Irish Lion partnering Lewis Bean in the engine room.
Thomas Gordon starts at openside, whilst two of the club’s summer signings get their first taste of action in Glasgow colours alongside him in the back-row; Sintu Manjezi starts at blindside following his off-season arrival from the Vodacom Bulls, with Tongan international Sione Vailanu packing down at number eight.
An all-international half-back combination sees George Horne line up at scrum-half, pairing up with Argentinian fly-half Domingo Miotti.
The centre combination sees a brace of former Millbrae men come up against their former side, as Stafford McDowall and Tom Jordan – a standout in the inaugural FOSROC Super6 prior to signing a professional deal with the Warriors – link up in the midfield.
Walter Fifita joins club captain Steyn on the wings, with Cole Forbes completing the starting lineup at full-back.
Smith has named an extensive cohort of replacements blending experienced Warriors with fresh faces, as he looks to cast an eye over his new charges for the first time.
Ryan Wilson and Fraser Brown bring a combined total of over 300 appearances in Glasgow colours to proceedings, more than triple the total of the rest of the replacements combined.
At the other end of the experience spectrum, four of the club’s 2022/23 senior academy intake are included amongst the 30-strong group, with Scotland U20 talents Euan Ferrie, Ben Afshar, Ross McKnight and Andy Stirrat all ready to make an impact as and when called upon.
Joel Hodgson and Lucio Sordoni are both named on the bench after signing short-term deals earlier this summer, as are Cam Jones and Will Hunt; both men usually ply their trade with the Bulls, but have been involved with the Warriors over the off-season.
Second-row duo Alex Samuel and JP du Preez could also make their first outing in a Glasgow shirt, having been named amongst the replacements by Smith and his coaching team.
The bench is completed by Murphy Walker, Jack Dempsey and Sebastian Cancelliere, each of whom will be looking to continue where they left off after impressing in their first season as a Warrior.
Speaking following selection, Head Coach Smith told glasgowwarriors.org: “We’re pleased that Ayrshire Bulls have stepped up to take part in tomorrow night’s fixture.
“The players have been working hard all pre-season and it’s great that we’ll get to show the efforts of our hard work.
“Tomorrow’s game gives us the first opportunity to look at our structures and a number of combinations ahead of the 2022/23 season.
“We arrived into the Highlands yesterday and our boys have been taking part in a number community visits in Inverness and the surrounding area – It’s been great to get out and connect with the rugby community in the north.
“We’re all looking forward to running out tomorrow in front of our fans and setting out our stall for the season ahead.
“From myself and the players, too, we’d like to extend a big thank you to the Ayrshire Bulls for making themselves available to help us prepare for the season in the right way and we look forward to welcoming them to Inverness tomorrow.”
The match will not be broadcast live, but updates will be available through the official Glasgow Warriors Twitter account. Tickets are also still available here.
Glasgow Warriors team to face Ayrshire Bulls at the Caledonian Stadium, Friday 2 September, kick-off 7.30pm. You can follow the match live on Twitter at @GlasgowWarriors.
1. Nathan McBeth
2. Johnny Matthews
3. Simon Berghan
4. Lewis Bean
5. Richie Gray
6. Sintu Manjezi
7. Thomas Gordon
8. Sione Vailanu
9. George Horne
10. Domingo Miotti
11. Kyle Steyn (C)
12. Tom Jordan
13. Stafford McDowall
14. Walter Fifita
15. Cole Forbes
Replacements: Fraser Brown, Murphy Walker, Lucio Sordoni, Alex Samuel, Euan Ferrie, JP du Preez, Ryan Wilson, Jack Dempsey, Cam Jones, Ben Afshar, Joel Hodgson, Will Hunt, Andy Stirrat, Ross McKnight, Sebastian Cancelliere.