Glasgow Warriors back Ross Thompson and Rufus McLean to pep up attack against Edinburgh
Glasgow hope an injection of youthful vigour can spark a change of fortunes for them in the 1872 Cup.
Warriors coach Danny Wilson has handed first starts to stand-off Ross Thompson and winger Rufus McLean as he seeks to restore parity in the second match of the three-game series.
Edinburgh won the first leg 10-7 at home on Saturday and will secure the inter-city trophy for the fourth year in a row with victory at Scotstoun on Friday night.
The match at Murrayfield was a turgid affair but Wilson is confident the second leg will produce more in the way of running rugby. The plastic pitch should help up the tempo and Thompson and McLean are backed to add spark.
“This is their opportunity to put their stamp on a game,” said Wilson. “Both are probably more known for their attacking ability, so hopefully they will add to that side of the game.
“It is well documented that neither attack really functioned last week. I think we played a little bit more rugby but got a bit lateral on that at times. Certainly, conditions probably favoured defence more than attack, but hopefully on a faster track this week we will see a bit more attack.”
Thompson impressed as a late substitute at Murrayfield and is rewarded with the starting jersey. His promotion means Brandon Thomson drops to the bench, with near namesake Thompson assuming goalkicking duties.
The Edinburgh-born fly-half first came to prominence guiding Stewart’s Melville to success in the Scottish Schools Cup in 2016. He was capped by Scotland under-20 when just 18 and played in the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in 2018 and 2019.
Now 21, he is a year older than fellow academy graduate McLean. The winger has scored three tries in four appearances for Scotland U20, including a sparkling solo effort in the record win over Wales in Colwyn Bay last season. He starts against Edinburgh at the expense of Ratu Tagive.
“Ross is obviously an academy boy, he is a guy who has played under-20s, so I am learning about him as I go as well, but I think he deserves an opportunity,” said Wilson.
“Likewise Rufus. He would have had an opportunity earlier than this had he not been involved in a couple of Covid situations which have ruled him out for a long period of time.
“He has been training well – looking sharp with bags of gas – so hopefully he gets to show that and he’s got some experience around him in the back three with Lee Jones and Huw Jones, plus Nick Grigg inside him.
“I think it is the right time to give them a crack.
“With only two pro teams in Scotland and no Super6 underneath at the moment, there is not that much opportunity at the moment to get these boys out there.
“Hardly any of them have played any rugby, so when’s the best time to do it? Well, you know what? Perhaps now is the best time to do it – bit by bit, right time and right place.”
Other changes see Robbie Fergusson replace Sam Johnson at inside centre and Oli Kebble return at loosehead prop which should bolster Glasgow in the scrum, an area in which they struggled at the weekend.