Glasgow welcome back forward Jonny Gray for Cheetahs trip

05 October 2017 02:54

Glasgow head coach Dave Rennie welcomes back "talisman" Jonny Gray as his side prepare to face the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

The Warriors are making their first trip to South Africa since the Guinness PRO14 expanded to include the Cheetahs and the Southern Kings, with Gray in line for a first appearance of the season.

The second-row forward has not played since suffering a wrist injury on Scotland duty in June, but is one of several changes following the win over Treviso last week, and Rennie was delighted to have him back.

He said: "It's great to have Jonny back. Obviously he is pretty excited, and he was keen to come back last week, but we wanted to make sure.

"It will be good to have his physicality on the park.

"He is hugely important, (with) his leadership - he's obviously a former captain - and from a lineout perspective as well.

"There's no doubt he is a bit of a talisman in this group and guys will follow him, so he has a big role in supporting Ryan (Wilson) as captain.

"He may not play 80 minutes but he will certainly be okay at altitude."

The challenge of playing at altitude will be a new one for many of the Glasgow squad, but Rennie's experience of Super Rugby gives him a head start over rivals and he has made sure the players will be able to adapt to the atmosphere on Friday night.

The Cheetahs have won each of their three home games since joining the PRO14, but Rennie is confident his players will be able to overcome any problems.

He said: "I'm fortunate that the trainer and I have spent a lot of time in Africa.

"I think we've prepared really well. We've done a lot of work with the boys and a lot of work outside, so we're not concerned about the altitude."

On the threats posed by their opponents, the New Zealander added: "They're a big side. Our discipline is going to be key because they will try and put us in the corners if we give away penalties and will look to their driving lineouts.

"We will need to look after the ball because they have so much pace out wide they can punish you."

Finn Russell returns to the side at fly-half after being rested last week, while Ali Price and Leonardo Sarto also return in the backs.

Rennie has made as many as seven changes to the forwards, with Zander Fagerson, Callum Gibbins, Adam Ashes and Tim Swinson among those returning.

Source: PA