Firhill Stadium has not been a happy hunting ground for Leinster in recent years. They have not won at the Glasgow venue since May 2006. So, can they put an end to that losing run in new Joe Schmidt’s first competitive game in charge?
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, September 3
GLASGOW WARRIORS v LEINSTER, Firhill Stadium, 7.05pm (live RTE 2/BBC ALBA)
Team News: For new coach Joe Schmidt’s first competitive game in charge of the province, young flanker Sean O’Brien has been chosen to leads a Leinster side which includes summer signings Heinke van der Merwe, Ed O’Donoghue and Isaac Boss.
Back from international duty, Jamie Heaslip forms a back row partnership with O’Brien and Dominic Ryan, while Scotland international Nathan Hines links up with O’Donoghue in the second row.
Hines said: “The two pre-season games (that we had) were good preparation for the start of the league proper and obviously they count, but you’re not playing for points in pre-season.
“Historically we haven’t done very well in Glasgow so it’s an opportunity for everyone to get a scalp early on.
“Leicester was an improved performance compared to how we did against Wasps.
“We would have liked to have made bigger strides forward, but as long as we go to Glasgow and produce what we can do on the training pitch and come away with a win, then it doesn’t really matter what happens in pre-season. Provided we get our campaign on track.”
Leinster’s selected front row includes Ballymena clubman Simon Shawe, a regular for Ireland at AIB Club International level. The 30-year-old, who has played for Ulster at various levels, will relish this opportunity to debut in the Magners League.
Shane Horgan, another of the Ireland internationals available, joins the fit-again Luke Fitzgerald and Niall Morris in an exciting back three.
This will be Fitzgerald’s first competitive outing since suffering knee ligament damage against Australia last November. The 22-year-old will be hoping to impress at full-back, a position he deems his favourite.
New signing Ben Prescott has been named amongst the replacements alongside Ireland hooker John Fogarty.
Argentinian international Mariano Galarza and promising former Ireland Under-20 centre Eamonn Sheridan could also make their competitive debuts off the bench.
Meanwhile, Dan Parks’ move to Cardiff has given Ruaridh Jackson a chance to make Glasgow Warriors’ number 10 jersey his own.
Jackson and Henry Pyrgos, who deputises for Chris Cusiter, will form the Warriors’ half-back partnership for this clash with last season’s beaten grand finalists.
With Magners League Dream Team captain Alastair Kellock out injured, Richie Gray links up with Tom Ryder in the second row.
The Scots will field a new-look back row of Ryan Wilson, Chris Fusaro and Richie Vernon, as both John Barclay and Johnnie Beattie are injured and Kelly Brown has transferred to English side Saracens.
In the absence of Kellock and Cusiter, Argentinian full-back Bernardo Stortoni will captain Glasgow.
GLASGOW WARRIORS: Bernardo Stortoni (capt); DTH van der Merwe, Max Evans, Graeme Morrison, Federico Aramburu; Ruaridh Jackson, Henry Pyrgos; Jon Welsh, Fergus Thomson, Moray Low, Tom Ryder, Richie Gray, Ryan Wilson, Chris Fusaro, Richie Vernon.
Replacements: Pat MacArthur, Ed Kalman, Ryan Grant, Aly Muldowney, Rob Harley, Duncan Weir, Hefin O’Hare, Peter Murchie.
LEINSTER: Luke Fitzgerald; Shane Horgan, Eoin O’Malley, Fergus McFadden, Niall Morris; Isa Nacewa, Isaac Boss; Heinke van der Merwe, Richardt Strauss, Simon Shawe, Nathan Hines, Ed O’Donoghue, Dominic Ryan, Sean O’Brien (capt), Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: John Fogarty, Jack McGrath, Ben Prescott, Mariano Galarza, Stephen Keogh, Paul O’Donohoe, Ian Madigan, Eamonn Sheridan.
Referee: Tim Hayes (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Andy Macpherson, Graeme Marshall (both Scotland)
Television Match Official: Jim Yuille (Scotland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Glasgow Warriors to win: 10/11; Draw: 20/1; Leinster to win: 10/11
Pre-Match Quotes: Richie Murphy (Leinster) – “I think that Glasgow will give us a very big test. They play a nice brand of rugby, they’ve got some serious ball carriers and they play with a lot of width so, because of that, they will pose a threat.
“They’re a reasonably settled side, even though they have a few injuries like ourselves, but they’ll be throwing everything at us on Friday night.
“When some of the international lads come back it will give the (younger) guys a lot of confidence. The players who have played so far have been the younger guys and they have had a lot of good experience.
“They have all learned a lot but with the senior guys coming back into the panel over the next three or four weeks, it will help cement down what we’re trying to do and help give us a little bit more direction. In saying that, the guys that have been there have played very well.
“It’s a learning curve and we’re obviously trying to change a little bit in the way that we’re trying to play the game. With a lot of young personnel being there (also), any mistakes that we have made (against Wasps and Leicester Tigers) have been punished heavily.
“But we have definitely taken a step forward this week and this week again it’s about stepping up (because) we’re in a situation where we’re playing for points now, so we have to do the business on Friday night.
“The new players have settled in very well and the one thing you can say about Leinster over the past few years is that there are no airs and graces when anyone comes in.
“Everyone’s treated the same, there’s good camaraderie between the players and I think that the young guys have settled in well after a steep learning curve in the first two matches.”
Sean Lineen (Glasgow Warriors) – “It’s the most satisfying pre-season I’ve had as a head coach. We’re training at Scotstoun now so we’ve been able to do a lot more coaching.
“The pre-season games have been good for us, we’ve learnt a lot from Dundee right through until Sale and Wasps. There are some areas to improve on but a lot of good stuff as well.
“Our game against Sale at Firhill was a good stepping stone but we know it’s going to be a massive physical test against Leinster.
“It’s always a good battle with Leinster. They’ve got a lot of youngsters as well but they’ve also got plenty experience. The back row, which I rate very highly, is their weapon.
“We had 2,500 people at our pre-season game against Sale which has never been done before, so we’re obviously capturing people’s imaginations to have that number at a friendly.
“They made a lot of noise and that’s really important. I hope they do it again on Friday and we give them reason to do that.”
Top Scorers – 2009/10 Magners League: Glasgow Warriors – Points: Dan Parks 216; Tries: Bernardo Stortoni, Thom Evans, DTH van der Merwe 4 each; Leinster – Points: Jonathan Sexton 124; Tries: Rob Kearney 5
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Friday, October 12, 2007 – Glasgow Warriors 21 Leinster 17, Firhill Stadium
Friday, March 21, 2008 – Leinster 34 Glasgow Warriors 18, the RDS
Friday, October 24, 2008 – Glasgow Warriors 15 Leinster 12, Firhill Stadium
Saturday, April 25, 2009 – Leinster 36 Glasgow Warriors 13, the RDS
Thursday, March 18, 2010 – Leinster 20 Glasgow Warriors 14, the RDS
Friday, April 23, 2010 – Glasgow Warriors 30 Leinster 6, Firhill Stadium
– Glasgow Warriors have won their opening Magners League fixture of the new season for the past two years
– The Warriors ended the regular season in 2009/10 with four straight victories, and have lost at home just once since last October, 30-7 to the Cardiff Blues in the Magners League on February 19
– The most recent Irish side to win at Firhill was Ulster, 20-19, on April 17, 2009
– Leinster’s only opening weekend victory in the past six seasons was a 23-8 triumph over Edinburgh at the RDS in 2007
– The province lost their last two away games last season, but have defeated Scottish opponents in four of their last five encounters
– The last eight clashes between the two teams have all been won by the home side on the day, while Leinster’s most recent victory in Glasgow was a 21-18 win at Firhill on May 7, 2006