Glasgow Warriors welcome back the club’s longest serving player, Graeme Morrison, for Saturday’s Magners League match against Aironi (2 April, kick-off 3.30pm local time) as the team goes in search of its first away win of the season.
The Warriors will travel to Italy for the first time on league duties where they will play Aironi at the Stadio Zaffanella – the venue of their 18-15 Heineken Cup win over Viadana in 2008 – with this year’s test set to be another evenly-matched affair.
Glasgow head coach Sean Lineen said: “We’ve had a couple of wins over in Italy in the Heineken Cup but we know it’s going to be a tough ask this time around.
“Aironi got their first win in the league last week over Connacht – a team which has beaten us twice this year.
“They’ll have a little bit of momentum and a strong squad with some quality players. We haven’t won away from home yet this season so we are under no illusions.”
Morrison’s recovery from a knee injury means that not only is the midfield bolstered but the Warriors receive a further injection of experience and leadership as he takes over captaincy duties.
The centre’s return is one of five personnel changes from the team that lost narrowly to Ulster last weekend. There are a further two positional switches.
Henry Pyrgos is given the scrum-half jersey ahead of Colin Gregor whilst Peter Murchie moves from centre to fullback in place of Bernardo Stortoni who has been struck down by a stomach bug.
In the pack, hooker Pat MacArthur takes over from Fergus Thomson and the competition at prop continues to see Ryan Grant and Jon Welsh vie for a place in the starting team. This week, Grant has the honour of taking the field first.
Lock Tom Ryder also makes a comeback as his thigh injury clears up in time for the trip to Aironi. He is re-instated to the second-row and Rob Harley moves into the back-row as a result.
In addition to Glasgow’s injury list [detailed below] it has been agreed that Scotland internationalists John Barclay, Richie Gray and Alastair Kellock will not feature in the club’s four remaining Magners League matches. This decision has been made following discussion between the respective coaching and medical staffs of Glasgow Warriors and the Scotland national team.
The decision has been taken to allow the club’s key international players to be in the best possible position to contribute to a winning performance for both Scotland at the forthcoming Rugby World Cup and for Glasgow in the 2011/12 Magners League and Heineken Cup season.
Dr James Robson, Scottish Rugby's head of medical services, explained: "These players have experienced a large amount of high intensity rugby this season and it is felt that a period of rest will enable them to be in the best possible condition for the Rugby World Cup and the 2011/12 Magners League and Heineken Cup season.”
Lineen understands this position and replied: “It’s important to manage players’ welfare and that is something we take very seriously at Glasgow Warriors. John [Barclay], Richie [Gray] and Al [Kellock] have been outstanding for the club so, although I’d love to see them putting on a Glasgow jersey, I respect the decision to manage their workload for the remainder of the current campaign.”
Glasgow Warriors team to play Aironi in the Magners League at the Stadio Zaffanella on Saturday 2 April (kick-off 3.30pm local time)
15 Peter Murchie
14 DTH van der Merwe
13 Federico Aramburu
12 Graeme Morrison CAPTAIN
11 Alex Dunbar
10 Ruaridh Jackson
9 Henry Pyrgos
1 Ryan Grant
2 Pat MacArthur
3 Moray Low
4 Aly Muldowney
5 Tom Ryder
6 Robert Harley
7 Ryan Wilson
8 Richie Vernon
Substitutes: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Jon Welsh, 18 Kevin Tkachuk, 19 James Eddie, 20 Johnnie Beattie, 21 Colin Gregor, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Hefin O’Hare
Unavailable for selection: John Barclay (rested), Chris Cusiter (knee), Rob Dewey (knee), Max Evans (ankle), James Fleming (knee), Calum Forrester (knee), Finlay Gillies (Scotland 7s), Richie Gray (rested), James Johnstone (Scotland 7s), Ed Kalman (back), Alastair Kellock (rested), Murray McConnell (back), Colin Shaw (knee), Bernardo Stortoni (stomach bug).