No selection regrets for Townsend

Date published: May 31 2014

Glasgow coach Gregor Townsend insists he is comfortable with the decision to leave two Test players out of his team for the Pro12 Final.

Glasgow coach Gregor Townsend insists he is comfortable with the decision to leave two Test players out as the Scottish club chase a maiden Pro12 title against Leinster in Dublin on Saturday.

Townsend has repeatedly altered his line-up while Glasgow have recorded nine straight wins on the way to a final at the Irish province's home ground.

But his 23-man squad for the showpiece fixture had no room for British and Irish Lions full-back Stuart Hogg or fly-half Duncan Weir, the drop-goal hero of Scotland's last gap 21-20 win away to Italy – their lone victory in this season's Six Nations.

Neither of the two backs were involved in the nail-biting 16-15 semi-final win over Munster.

“This is a reward for the players who played so well in the semi-final against Munster but it was a tough decision. They all are,) said Townsend.

“I know people have spoken about full-back. Peter Murchie is playing some great stuff but Stuart has trained well and in the end it was a close call and Peter got the nod.

“This is the hardest part of the job. I really feel for the players not involved. I know they would do a very good job if they were chosen, but with results going so well – nine wins in a row — even if you are playing well it is hard to get into this side.

“But making those decisions is part of the job. I looked at each player in training, what they have done in past games and what they can bring tactically each weekend.

“My overriding goal is to pick a team that will win the game,” Townsend explained.

Saturday's clash will see Leinster and Ireland great Brian O'Driscoll bid to cap his career with a fourth Celtic League title in what will be the 35-year-old centre's final match before retirement.

“It's amazing to think that he got his first cap in 1999,” said Townsend.

“I played against him in 2000 and he was the best player on the field. All these years later he is still playing excellent rugby.

“We realise it's a great occasion to be involved in his last game but I'm more concerned about what he will do as a player and how we can stop him than the other stuff.

“However, we believe have built up a lot of momentum and there will be everything to play for in the final.”

Leinster have defeated Glasgow in the semi-finals in each of the past two seasons but so far this term honours are even, with the Warriors winning 12-6 in Glasgow in September before Leinster just got by in a 28-25 victory in March.

The three-time European champions, may have far the advantage in big-match experience but Leinster coach Matt O'Connor insisted: “We know it's going to be a big, big task.

“I remember back to the launch, Glasgow were the team I picked as the biggest threat, having played them in the semi-final last year I remember how good they were.”