Preview: Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors

Date published: January 29 2016

Defending PRO12 champions Glasgow Warriors head into an intriguing fixture against Ospreys, who are without several key players on international duty, at Liberty Stadium on Saturday.

The hosts will be without Paul James, Scott Baldwin, Aaron Jarvis, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Justin Tipuric, James King and Dan Biggar – all playing in the Six Nations. JJ Engelbrecht will make his debut, if he comes on as a replacment.

"This game marks the start of the next phase of the season for us. We’ve got a tough run of games during the Six Nations that will push us but we have to rise to the challenge if we want to get the outcome we want," said Ospreys head coach, Steve Tandy.

"We have a very young group of players that we are turning to during this period but they are excited about the opportunity to really push the team up the table. Some of them have already gained great experience belt in Europe and the league this season while others are really itching to pull the shirt on and show what they are about during this period.

"There’s no margin for error, we have to get the performance level where it needs to be if we’re going to get the right outcome. Youth and inexperience isn’t going to be an excuse, this is their time. We know that with Glasgow just behind us in the table they’ll target this match as one where they can push ahead of us and damage our hopes, so it has the makings of a great contest."

Meanwhile, Glasgow have been buoyed by the return of Rob Harley. The flanker had been sidelined by a thumb injury for several weeks, but is back alongside captain Ryan Wilson – and South African-born Scottish international Josh Strauss.

"We're going up against an Ospreys side who are a point above us in the league and have won five out of their last six games in the PRO12, so we're well aware of the challenge we face on Sunday," said Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend.

"We're delighted to welcome Rob and Josh back into the squad after missing our last few games because of injury. What has been pleasing over the past few weeks has been the determination of a number of players to seize their playing opportunities. 

"A few of our squad this weekend have been waiting for a while to get their opportunity and we're looking forward to them being positive and committed in their play."

Form: Ospreys five game winning run in the PRO12 ended with their 9-22 home defeat to Leinster in Round 12. This was the Welshmen's only reversal at Liberty Stadium in their last seven matches in all tournaments. Glasgow Warriors four game losing run in all competitions ended with their impressive 22-5 victory over French powerhouse Racing 92 at Kilmarnock on Saturday. The defending PRO12 champions have won their last five encounters against Welsh regions in all tournaments. Ospreys have won just one of their last nine fixtures with the Warriors: 21-10 at Liberty Stadium in Round 21 last year. 

The teams: 

Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Tom Grabham, 13 Owen Watkin, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Brendon Leonard (c), 8 Dan Baker, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Joe Bearman, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Rynier Bernardo, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Nicky Smith
Replacements: 16 Scott Otten, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Olly Cracknell, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 Ben John, 23 JJ Engelbrecht

Glasgow: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Rory Hughes, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Grayson Hart, 8 Ryan Wilson (c), 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Greg Peterson, 3 Sila Puafisi, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Ryan Grant
Replacements: 16 James Malcolm, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 D’arcy Rae, 19. Josh Strauss, 20 James Eddie, 21 Ali Price, 22 Gregor Hunter, 23 Glenn Bryce

Date: Saturday, January 30
Venue: Arms Park
Kick-off: 17:15 GMT
Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Ian Davies (Wales), Martyn Lewis (Wales)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)