Glasgow Warriors are gearing up for a pivotal RaboDirect PRO12 clash with Munster at Musgrave Park on Saturday night (kick-off 7.15pm, live on BBC ALBA).
The teams are currently tied on 56 points as the race for the end of season play-offs reaches the home straight. Munster sit third in the competition table, with the Warriors hot on their heels in fourth.
Tomorrow’s big game is the first of three season-defining encounters for Sean Lineen’s men, who travel to Benetton Treviso on Sunday 22 April before taking on Connacht at Firhill on Saturday 5 May.
The tussle with the men from Galway represents the finale to one of the biggest days in Glasgow rugby history, with the inaugural Emirates Airline Glasgow 7s also taking place at Scotstoun.
For now, however, all eyes are firmly trained on the battle in Cork, where the Warriors won in May 2008. Since then, Munster have won all 14 of the games staged at Musgrave Park, and have beaten the Warriors in each of the last four encounters between the sides.
Head coach Lineen confirmed: “This is the latest in a long line of massive tests for the team. Munster away is one of the toughest games you can get, but the players have consistently risen to the challenges that have been put in front of them this season and we’ve every confidence they can deliver again.
“We’ve only lost one of our last fifteen matches in the RaboDirect PRO12 and the quality of our performances in the home wins against Aironi and Cardiff Blues was very pleasing. Everyone needs to take it up another notch if we’re to claim another positive result again this weekend.
“In terms of consistency and intensity, Munster have set the standard for the rest of European rugby in the last decade or so. We’ve massive respect for what they have achieved, but we’re very clear about our own objectives and we travel there with confidence.”
The Warriors starting XV for the game shows six changes from that which saw off the Blues 31-3 in Glasgow’s last fixture on 30 March.
Three of the switches are injury enforced, Ryan Wilson and Graeme Morrison missing with knee injuries and John Barclay not having recovered sufficiently from the blow to the head he sustained in that game to take the field this week.
Peter Murchie, an early replacement for Morrison in the Cardiff clash, will start at full-back tomorrow, with Stuart Hogg and Alex Dunbar teaming up in the centres. Ruaridh Jackson is named at stand-off.
Jon Welsh and Pat MacArthur come into the front row, Richie Gray starts in the boiler house while Johnnie Beattie will line up at No.8 in place of Wilson.
Lineen explained: “It’s really unfortunate for Ryan, Graeme and John that they’re missing out, because they’ve all given a lot to our campaign to date.
“That said, the level of contribution across the board in the squad has been a real strong feature of our season, and those coming into the side this week are more than capable of helping secure the result that we and the supporters all want.
“Peter Murchie has been outstanding of late, and although we know that Johnnie Beattie is leaving at the end of the season, he’s absolutely desperate to go out on a high by helping his home-town club achieve success.
“The same goes for Richie Gray, whose quality speaks for itself, while Ruaridh will bring good game management and drive to the backline. The changes in the front row highlight the strength in depth we’ve got in that area, and once again we’re delighted with what we have on the bench to come on and make an impact.
“It’s going to be a monumentally physical, high-octane game, and the players can’t wait to get out there and show they have what it takes to win it.”
We’re giving supporters the chance to save money, time and hassle as they savour one of the biggest days in Glasgow rugby history, Saturday 5 May.
There’s a feast of top class rugby and enjoyment on offer throughout the city, with the first day of the Emirates Airline Glasgow 7s taking place at Scotstoun Stadium, followed by the play-off chasing Warriors’ huge RaboDirect PRO12 game against Connacht at Firhill.
Warriors fans can not only back their own team in their quest for the semi-finals, but get a taste of what will be the club’s new playing base of next season.
We’ve put together a super saver joint ticket package covering these two great events, and are giving fans the option of including a bus transfer from Scotstoun to Firhill, where the Warriors match will kick-off at 7.30pm.
Supporters should visit www.glasgowwarriors.org or call 0844 800 3490 for more information and to book.
GLASGOW WARRIORS TEAM TO PLAY MUNSTER IN THE RABODIRECT PRO12 AT MUSGRAVE PARK ON SATURDAY 14 APRIL (KICK-OFF 7.15PM, LIVE ON BBC ALBA)
15 Peter Murchie
14 Federico Aramburu
13 Stuart Hogg
12 Alex Dunbar
11 Colin Shaw
10 Ruaridh Jackson
9 Chris Cusiter
1 Jon Welsh
2 Pat MacArthur
3 Mike Cusack
4 Richie Gray
5 Al Kellock (CAPTAIN)
6 Rob Harley
7 Chris Fusaro
8 Johnnie Beattie
16 Dougie Hall
17 Ryan Grant
18 Moray Low
19 Tom Ryder
20 Calum Forrester
21 Henry Pyrgos
22 Duncan Weir
23 Tommy Seymour
Not considered for selection due to injury: John Barclay (head knock), Rob Dewey (shoulder), Ed Kalman (neck), Rory Lamont (leg), Graeme Morrison (knee), Fergus Thomson (shoulder), Ryan Wilson (knee)