It'S Sale Away As Warriors Look To Get Ship Shape

There will be a mix of fresh beginnings and old friends for Glasgow Warriors tomorrow when they take on Sale Sharks in the Mark Cueto Testimonial at Heywood Road (kick-off 3pm).

New head coach Gregor Townsend leads his team into battle in their first formal warm-up match ahead of season 2012/13 against a side featuring two former Warriors favourites, Richie Gray and Richie Vernon.

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There will be a mix of fresh beginnings and old friends for Glasgow Warriors tomorrow when they take on Sale Sharks in the Mark Cueto Testimonial at Heywood Road (kick-off 3pm).

New head coach Gregor Townsend leads his team into battle in their first formal warm-up match ahead of season 2012/13 against a side featuring two former Warriors favourites, Richie Gray and Richie Vernon.

The game is one of two friendlies Glasgow will undertake over the next six days, the other tie seeing them square up to fellow Heineken Cup contestants Exeter Chiefs at Millbrae, home of Ayr RFC, on Thursday 23 August.

The players who contributed strongly to Scotland's successful summer tour are not being pressed into match action just yet, and as such the trip to Cheshire gives any number of individuals the opportunity to stake a claim for selection when the RaboDirect PRO12 season begins on Friday 31 August away to Ulster.

Four summer signings will start the game, having integrated well since joining up with the squad over the last two months. Two of the newbies will take up positions in the three-quarters, Taylor Paris on the left wing and Byron McGuigan at outside centre.

Up front, meanwhile, Tim Swinson will bring his vast English Premiership experience to bear in a second row partnership with Nick Campbell, while former All Black back-rower Angus Macdonald lines up at blindside flanker.

With regular skipper Al Kellock among the rested internationals, the side will be captained by openside Chris Fusaro, whose inspired and inspirational form last term saw him scoop Player of the Season honours from his teammates and coaches as well as the club's supporters.

The loose forward unit is completed by No.8 Ryan Wilson, who also enjoyed an outstanding 2011/12 campaign before it was curtailed by a knee injury sustained in the thumping win over Cardiff Blues in February.

There are further welcome returns on the bench for fans" favourite James Eddie and talented centre Peter Horne, both of whom are back in the Warriors fold full-time this season after spending last year with Scotland 7s. Shoulder complaints interrupted their spell in the abbreviated game, but both have rehabbed well and enjoyed a positive pre-season.

Also among the replacements are Elite Development players Fraser Thomson (a back-three acquisition from Melrose) and 21-year-old Sean Kennedy.

The scrum-half is aligned to Edinburgh Rugby, but will provide cover for at least the next two weeks in the west, after fellow Elite Development half-back Murray McConnell suffered a foot injury that is subject to further assessment.

Nikola Matawalu, the Warriors" recent scrum-half signing, is expected to arrive in Scotland shortly.

DTH van der Merwe and Viliami Ma"afu, who recently represented Canada and Tonga respectively, will not be involved this weekend.

Townsend today backed his men to negotiate the often tricky process of transferring what they have been producing on the training paddock when they step out against the Sharks.

He told www.glasgowwarriors.org: 'there's been a real energy and purpose to our pre-season since the bulk of the squad first came together at the start of June.

'the players have worked extremely hard, and, equally importantly, they"ve also worked each other extremely hard.

'that desire and team first ethic are great strength of this group, and I"m also really excited by the quality we have.

"As a coaching team, we"ve been really challenging the players in terms of how we want to play. We"ve been focussing on giving ourselves options in attack, while retaining the defensive solidity that has been such a big part of the side's progress.

'the players have responded very well to what we"ve asked of them, particularly in the last few weeks when we"ve been putting more emphasis on organisation, patterns and team plays.

"Pre-season should be a process of continual improvement, both in terms of fitness and skills, and we"ve certainly seen progress on both those fronts. The guys are buzzing to get back out on the pitch and I"m confident we"ll see a strong performance from them tomorrow.

'sale are a quality side who have made a number of additions to their squad in the last couple of years. We obviously know a couple of them pretty well, and I"m sure that will add extra spice to the occasion.

"We"re delighted to have Ryan Wilson, James Eddie and Peter Horne back fit and challenging for selection, and the new boys are also making a real impact. Tomorrow is about taking things up another notch from the training camp in France, before we get the chance to run out in front of our own fans against Exeter in Ayr next week."

Townsend also paid tribute to Cueto, saying: "He's been a consistently impressive performer for both Sale and England over a lengthy period, and he's a player I enjoy watching.

"Playing in a World Cup final and representing the British and Irish Lions are excellent achievements, and we"re very pleased to have been asked to provide the opposition for Mark's testimonial, even if we"ll be doing everything we can to secure the right result for Glasgow."

GLASGOW WARRIORS TEAM TO PLAY SALE SHARKS IN THE MARK CUETO TESTIMONIAL AT HEYWOOD ROAD ON SATURDAY 18 AUGUST (KICK-OFF 3PM)

15 Peter Murchie

14 Tommy Seymour
13 Byron McGuigan
12 Alex Dunbar
11 Taylor Paris

10 Ruaridh Jackson
9 Henry Pyrgos

1 Gordon Reid
2 Pat MacArthur
3 Mike Cusack
4 Tim Swinson
5 Nick Campbell
6 Angus Macdonald
7 Chris Fusaro (CAPTAIN)
8 Ryan Wilson

SUBSTITUTES

16 Finlay Gillies
17 Moray Low
18 Ed Kalman
19 James Eddie
20 Adam Ashe
21 Troy Nathan
22 Scott Wight
23 Peter Horne
24 Sean Kennedy
25 Fraser Thomson

Not considered for selection due to injury: Rory Lamont (leg), Jon Welsh (shoulder)