Glasgow Warriors RWC squad analysis part 2: The forwards

In Part 1 we looked at the backs who contributed for Glasgow during the World Cup. In Part 2 it’s the turn of the players who do the real hard graft – the forwards:

Props:

No real surprises from Jerry Yanuyanutawa. The Flying(ish) Fijian carries well (probably better than any of the Weegie props until Xander came along) and throws himself about in the loose but his setpiece work will rank him 4th in line for the number 1 jersey. And conceding a penalty every 20 minutes is just not helpful! BACKUP SQUAD

Alex Allan didn’t get a proper pre-season due to injury but jumped straight into the action and has carried well and defended well (97% tackle completion is the best in the squad). Hasn’t conceded many penalties but was part of the scrum that was decimated by Connacht. Can he push Reid and Grant once they return? BACKUP SQUAD

Mike Cusack’s carrying and tackling stats are very low. Now this wouldn’t be an issue if the Warriors could rely on him to lock out the scrum, but as the game versus Connacht showed he’s not in the kind of form that allows him to do that. It would be great to get him back to where he was pre-injuries and illness but it’s still a tough road ahead for the big man. BACKUP SQUAD

Young Zander Fagerson’s work in the loose is outstanding with carries and tackles in double digits which is pretty extraordinary for a prop. Scrum time has been tougher – 7 penalties and a YC – as he’s faced some experienced pros who know all the tricks. He’s currently equal top try scorer and will be providing his top tips to Tommy Seymour on how finish! FIRST TEAM SQUAD

D’Arcy Rae had a torrid time after being flung in at the deep end in the bear pit that is Thomond Park for his first start. He’s struggled to get himself into the game outwith the setpiece in the brief time he has had on the pitch. Potentially another spell on loan beckons. BACKUP SQUAD

Hookers:

Fergus Scott has stepped up well, in particular against the Dragons where he had to play 78 minutes after Pat MacArthur’s early departure. Throws well at the lineout. If only he were a stone (or even 2) heavier – a common issue for Glasgow hookers. BACKUP SQUAD

Illness and injury have cost Pat MacArthur some significant game time as he looked to put down a marker with his 2 main rivals for the jersey away. When he has made it onto the pitch he has generally justified his place in Glasgow’s leadership group and his numbers have been more like the man who started last season so strongly before fading to the point he was 3rd choice for the Grand Final. FIRST TEAM SQUAD

Locks:

The find of the season in the pack Scott Cummings has shown immense maturity and no little leadership – calling the lineout, including 10 to himself on the opening day against the Scarlets. He’ll probably get some time to develop now but will definitely still be in Toonie’s thoughts if there are any injuries in the second row. HITTING THE GYM AND THE PROTEIN SHAKES

It would be interesting to know how Toonie sees Kieran Low’s primary role in the squad: smallish second row or largish blindside? His skillset, with some good hands for a big man, seems better suited to the 6 jersey but the back row is very congested for Glasgow and there may be more opportunities for him to cover at lock. BACKUP SQUAD

Flankers:

Rob Harley and Fraser Lyle are the only men to play all 400 minutes of the season so far. Bob has had to split his time between lock and flanker but it’s not held back his play with 96% tackle completion and one of the best returns for metres per carry. And of course his raison d’être continues to be hitting ruck after ruck and being a massive pain in arse to the opposition! STARTER

This will be the 10th season that James Eddie has played for the Warriors and he’s still as enthusiastic and hard working as he was when he first ran out as a 21 year old! Made an incredible 10 tackles in the final 13 minutes to help close out Connacht in a match the Warriors only won by a single point. BACKUP SQUAD

Chris Fusaro has put his body through a fearful battering already, including a great pinballing effort for his try against the Dragons where he appeared to try and hit every defender he could before falling over the line! The side’s low level of turnovers is a worry though – especially considering that in some of the games Glasgow have included 3 opensides in their lineup…FIRST TEAM SQUAD

No-one attempts more tackles than Tyrone Holmes and his appetite for defensive duties is huge. When he’s the one making all these tackles though it does mean there’s little chance of him coming in to jackal and win the ball back. Carried very effectively with more line breaks and defenders beaten per match than any other forward. BACKUP SQUAD

Apparently Hugh Blake an openside although he’s rarely been sighted there for Glasgow having come on at outside centre and started in the 13 and 6 jerseys before he finally got a spin in his favoured position off the bench against Leinster. After criticising his signing I have to admit I’m a convert – he has all the skills to have a very big future for the Warriors. BACKUP SQUAD

Number 8:

After an anonymous first half against Scarlets Adam Ashe’s workrate has been off the charts. 20 carries per game (next highest is Zander on 15) and 11.4 tackles per match (91% tackle completion). Getting double digits for carries and tackles in one match is impressive. Doing it game after game is remarkable. Josh Strauss is going to have to work to get his jersey back. FIRST TEAM SQUAD


Gregor Townsend has only had around a third of his top 30 players available to him during the RWC – and even then several of that group have missed matches during this period. What the coach has gained is a good, long look at some backs and forwards on the fringes and some young players who could be the future of the club. Toonie’s World Cup Warriors have spent the last 4 months absorbing the culture of ‘Whatever It Takes’. There will be a long-term benefit accruing to Glasgow from the education of a group who have taken just 4 points less than what last season’s squad managed in the same 5 fixtures (see How much is enough? Points, playoffs and the good life for more details!)

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