Five debutants named in matchday squad for season opener

Five debutants named in matchday squad for season opener

Glasgow Warriors Head Coach Danny Wilson has named his first matchday 23 of the 2021/22 campaign, as his side travels to Belfast to take on Ulster in the opening round of the newly-formed United Rugby Championship.

Five of the squad set to step out on to the field tomorrow night are in line for their first appearance in Glasgow colours, as the Warriors go in search of a first victory over their hosts at the Kingspan Stadium since September 2013.

Amongst the potential debutants are on-loan loose-head Brad Thyer and summer arrival Simon Berghan, with the props lining up either side of the McCrea Financial Services Warrior of the Month for September, Johnny Matthews, in the front-row.

An all-international second-row partnership sees Richie Gray pack down alongside Scott Cummings in the engine room, with the former set for his first start at Scotstoun since March’s 46-25 victory over Benetton in the final match of the 2020/21 Guinness PRO14.

Australian international Jack Dempsey is another who will make his club debut in Belfast tomorrow night, as the summer signing lines up alongside Rory Darge and club co-captain Ryan Wilson in the back-row.

Behind the scrum, another all-international combination sees George Horne partner the returning Duncan Weir in the half-backs, as the fly-half makes his first competitive appearance for the Warriors since 2016.

Sione Tuipulotu is rewarded for his impressive displays in pre-season with selection at outside centre, lining up alongside Sam Johnson in the Glasgow midfield.

The back three sees Rufus McLean – fresh from his electrifying brace against Worcester Warriors – and Kyle Steyn named on the wings, as Cole Forbes completes the starting XV at full-back.

One further debut could be forthcoming amongst the replacements, as Murray McCallum is set for his first Glasgow outing from the bench tomorrow night.

The tight-head joins Fraser Brown and fellow summer arrival Jamie Bhatti as the front-row cover, with Bhatti’s last appearance for the club coming in the 2019 Guinness PRO14 Final at Celtic Park.

Lewis Bean is named in a competitive matchday squad for the first time since joining the club on a permanent basis, whilst the sole survivor from the 2013 win in Belfast, Rob Harley, wears the number 20 jersey.

The replacement backs have an average age of 21, with replacement scrum-half Jamie Dobie the youngest of the trio selected by Wilson and his coaching team.

Speaking following selection, Head Coach Wilson told glasgowwarriors.org: “We are looking forward to the challenge of Ulster tomorrow night.

“We are pleased with how our pre-season preparations have gone. Our games against Newcastle and Worcester gave us the opportunity to look at a number of combinations and players.

“We reward performance and Johnny Matthews and Brad Thyer have earned the chance to start this weekend.

“It’s great to also welcome back the experience of Fraser Brown, Kyle Steyn and Jamie Bhatti into the squad, who all return from injury.

“Ulster are a physical side and we expect a big battle up front and in and around the breakdown.”

Glasgow Warriors team to face Ulster in the United Rugby Championship, Friday 24 September 2021, kick-off 7.35pm, live on Premier Sports 1 and URC TV. You can follow the action in our Live Match Centre at glasgowwarriors.org.

1. Brad Thyer (0)
2. Johnny Matthews (12)
3. Simon Berghan (0)
4. Scott Cummings (78)
5. Richie Gray (61)
6. Ryan Wilson (C) (192)
7. Rory Darge (4)
8. Jack Dempsey (0)

9. George Horne (66)
10. Duncan Weir (107)
11. Rufus McLean (9)
12. Sam Johnson (72)
13. Sione Tuipulotu (0)
14. Kyle Steyn (31)
15. Cole Forbes (6)

16. Fraser Brown (109)
17. Jamie Bhatti (47)
18. Murray McCallum (0)
19. Lewis Bean (5)
20. Rob Harley (252)
21. Jamie Dobie (19)
22. Ross Thompson (13)
23. Ollie Smith (7)

Unavailable for selection: Matt Fagerson, Zander Fagerson, Thomas Gordon, Pete Horne, Oli Kebble, Kiran McDonald, Ewan McQuillin, Ali Price, Ratu Tagive, George Turner.

International duty: Sebastian Cancelliere, Domingo Miotti, Enrique Pieretto.

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