Talismanic skipper Al Kellock returns to the Glasgow Warriors starting line-up for the 1872 Cup clash with Edinburgh. Kellock, who suffered an arm injury against Castres Olympique at Scotstoun Stadium a fortnight ago, has recovered in time for the big city derby.
Having impressed last week in the Heineken Cup and with vital PRO12 points up for grabs, Ruaridh Jackson and Niko Matawalu resume their half back partnership with Peter Horne and Sean Lamont again the centre pairing.
There is just one personnel change to the back line which faced the Top 14 French side last week, with Peter Murchie taking the full-back position and Sean Maitland moving to the wing. Tommy Seymour, who signed a new contract with the Warriors this week, drops out of the squad with Stuart Hogg covering the back-line from the substitutes bench.
Jonny Gray, younger brother of Scotland star, Richie, is in line to make his senior professional debut after being named on the bench for the match this Friday.
The Scotland under-20 cap has impressed the coaching staff at Glasgow since signing as an Elite Development Player in the summer and will be on the bench to cover the second row in the RaboDirect PRO12 match at Scotstoun Stadium (21 December, kick-off 7.35pm)
Head Coach Gregor Townsend, who was announcing his team in George Square, the heart of Glasgow, commented:
“I was very pleased with way we attacked Castres for long spells of the game last week, the players showed ambition, pace and intensity.
“If we’re to win this game on Friday we need to have a similar level of performance. We’re preparing for a very tough contest against one of the best attacking teams in the PRO12.
“They can put out a very strong pack with a number of different ways of playing so we need to be absolutely on top of our game.
“It’s a massive occasion for Scottish Rugby and there’s a lot at stake for both teams. I expect a lot of intensity on both sides and with the RBS 6 Nations not too far away, there is no doubt about added motivation around selection for the national team.
“For us, the focus has to be on our position in the PRO12 and over the course of the next two games there are points which can propel us back towards the play-off places.”
The pack shows four changes to the one that faced Castres, with Chris Fusaro returning to the open-side spot in place of the injured John Barclay. Rob Harley starts alongside Ryan Wilson in the back-row.
Moray Low again plays tight-head with Ryan Grant reinstated to the loose-head role with Pat MacArthur as hooker.
There is strength and depth on the bench for Glasgow with no fewer than five full Scotland internationals ready to enter the cauldron of the city derby.
Townsend said: “To be able to bring on players of the ability of the guys on the bench says a lot about the strength of our squad.
“There are a lot of players in the squad who will be disappointed not to be involved but the competition for places is fierce and, unfortunately, some have to miss out.
“We’re expecting a tight match – recent history will tell us that these games are always pretty close – so everyone in the twenty three will have to be ready to make an impact.”
Glasgow Warriors team to play Edinburgh Rugby at Scotstoun Stadium in the RaboDirect PRO12, Friday 21 December, kick-off, 7.35pm
15. Peter Murchie
14. Sean Maitland
13. Sean Lamont
12. Peter Horne
11. DTH Van der Merwe
10. Ruaridh Jackson
9. Niko Matawalu
8. Ryan Wilson
7. Chris Fusaro
6. Rob Harley
5. Tim Swinson
4. Al Kellock (Captain)
3. Moray Low
2. Pat MacArthur
1. Ryan Grant
16. Dougie Hall
17. Gordon Reid
18 German Araoz
19. Jonny Gray
20. James Eddie
21. Henry Pyrgos
22. Duncan Weir
23. Stuart Hogg
Not available for selection due to injury:
John Barclay (leg) Mike Cusack (shoulder) Chris Cusiter (shoulder) Ofa (shoulder) Finlay Gillies (neck) Ed Kalman (back) Angus MacDonald (neck) Jon Welsh (shoulder)