Leone Nakarawa returns to Glasgow 23 for derby clash

Date published: January 15 2021

Three players are set to make their club debuts this weekend, as Glasgow Warriors also welcome back Fijian international Leone Nakarawa ahead of the 1872 Cup clash with Edinburgh at Scotstoun.

Head coach Danny Wilson has made just one alteration to the starting XV that was named ahead of last weekend’s postponed fixture, which sees Aki Seiuli come in for Oli Kebble at loosehead prop.

It means that Scotland U20 star Rufus McLean will make his club debut on the wing this weekend, whilst Ross Thompson starts for the Warriors at fly-half for the first time after making his debut at BT Murrayfield a fortnight ago.

Seiuli’s inclusion means that it’s the same front-row that started the clash in the capital on January 2, with George Turner and Zander Fagerson lining up alongside the former Highlander.

Lineout dominance

Richie Gray and Scott Cummings continue as the second-row partnership, having wreaked havoc on the Edinburgh lineout at Murrayfield.

Ryan Wilson captains the side from the blindside flank, with Tom Gordon and Matt Fagerson completing the back-row and the forward pack.

A mixture of youth and experience forms the half-back partnership, as Ali Price – the Glasgow back with the most appearances for the club – lines up alongside fly-half Thompson.

Scotland 7s captain Robbie Fergusson lines up at inside centre, with Nick Grigg starting outside him in the 13 jersey.

McLean once again joins Lee Jones as one half of the wing duo, as Huw Jones lines up at full-back.

There are two further potential debutants named amongst the replacements for tomorrow evening’s encounter, as academy duo Tom Lambert and Ollie Smith are named in a Glasgow matchday 23 for the first time.

Scotland U20 prop Lambert provides cover at loosehead, joining the recently re-signed Johnny Matthews and Argentinian Enrique Pieretto as the front-row replacements.

Nakarawa is in line for his first Glasgow appearance in 11 months, with the Fijian’s most recent Warriors outing coming in the club’s last home match pre-Covid-19 against the Dragons back in February 2020.

Rob Harley makes a return to the matchday squad after being unavailable for the trip to BT Murrayfield, whilst Jamie Dobie continues in the 21 shirt.

Academy prospect and Scotland U20 flyer Smith will look to demonstrate his pace and footwork to the Warrior Nation should he come off the bench tomorrow evening, with Brandon Thomson completing the matchday 23.

Meanwhile, head coach Richard Cockerill has made three injury-influenced changes to the starting Edinburgh side named for the rescheduled 1872 Cup derby.

Edinburgh edged the previous meeting between the sides 10-7 after the turn of the New Year at BT Murrayfield Stadium, with this return fixture vital for PRO14 points alongside the prospect of keeping the coveted 1872 Cup in the east of Scotland.

Forward duo David Cherry (hooker) and Magnus Bradbury (back-row) are promoted from the bench into the side named for last week’s called-off contest in place of Stuart McInally (neck strain) and Jamie Ritchie (head) who were injured (separately) in training this week. Mike Willemse and Luke Crosbie take the vacated places on the bench.

The postponement has, however, afforded lock Ben Toolis sufficient time to recover and return from injury and start alongside fellow Scotland internationalist Grant Gilchrist, who was set for a return from a three-month lay-off last weekend.

The pack is completed by Rory Sutherland and Simon Berghan, who join Cherry in the front-row, while Viliame Mata (number eight) and openside Hamish Watson accompany Bradbury in the loose forwards.

The unaltered back line sees full-back Blair Kinghorn combine with the reselected wings Eroni Sau and Jack Blain, with centres Mark Bennett and Chris Dean, and half-backs Jaco van der Walt and Nic Groom, also recalled.

Once more popular tighthead prop WP Nel awaits the opportunity to take the field and earn his 150th appearance for the club from the bench.

The teams:

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Huw Jones, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Robbie Fergusson, 11 Rufus McLean, 10 Ross Thompson, 9 Ali Price, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Tom Gordon, 6 Ryan Wilson (c), 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Zander Fagerson 2 George Turner, 1 Aki Seiuli
Replacements: 16 Johnny Matthews, 17 Tom Lambert, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Leone Nakarawa, 20 Rob Harley, 21 Jamie Dobie, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Ollie Smith

Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Jack Blain, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Chris Dean, 11 Eroni Sau, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Nic Groom (cc), 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 5 Grant Gilchrist (cc), 4 Ben Toolis, 3 Simon Berghan, 2 David Cherry, 1 Rory Sutherland
Replacements: 16 Mike Willemse, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 WP Nel, 19 Jamie Hodgson, 20 Luke Crosbie, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Nathan Chamberlain, 23 James Johnstone

Date: Saturday, January 16
Venue: Murrayfield
Kick-off: 17:15 GMT
Referee: Mike Adamson
Assistant referees: Finlay Brown, Dunx McClement
TMO: Charles Samson