There has been some disquiet among Glasgow fans about the lack of signing news since the end of the campaign. One of the main factors in that is the moves that have been made in the club’s 1st and 2nd XVs across the past 2 seasons. Here’s On Top Of The Moon’s look at the Depth Chart top 30 to (hopefully!) illuminate things (click image for larger version):
Between 2016/17 and 2017/18 half of the top 30 players changed. That’s a lot of transitioning in new signings and blending young academy players breaking through to the top two XVs. Dave Rennie’s first season in particular saw a lot of fresh faces, including 8 new arrivals and 3 players in their first seasons as full-time professionals.
Finn Russell is essentially the only player from that top 30 who will not be returning next season. The signings ahead of last season of Adam Hastings, Ruaridh Jackson and Brandon Thomson (plus the move to speed up Academy player Josh Henderson’s development by sending him to Stade Nicois in France for a year) are a clear indication that the planning to cover for Finn’s departure was already in hand more than 12 months ago.
Leonardo Sarto and Pat MacArthur are only other players leaving the club who might have been in the top 30. Leo’s injury issues lead to that change also being covered off early – DTH van der Merwe signed as a direct replacement, ostensibly for the 2018/19 campaign but the Warriors were able to secure his release early and he joined up in time for the denouement of the 2017/18 season. Even before his retirement was announced Pat had already been supplanted as backup hooker by loan signing George Turner – whose confirmation as a permanent addition came earlier this year.
The watchword for Glasgow next season is going to be cohesion. It takes players, coaches and staff time to settle into a new environment – and there have been massive changes in all 3 areas for the Warriors over the last 12-24 months. None of last season’s new signings arrived in time for a proper pre-season with several not turning up until the action was already well underway.
The coaches will be expecting to get more out of similar personnel with all areas of the team linking more effectively and a step forward in the buy-in on everything from the style of play right down to things like fitness, nutrition and preparation for games.
Dave Rennie will also be hoping for a bit of luck with injuries. There has been a bit of criticism that Glasgow didn’t have the physicality to break down the top teams in some key fixtures last season. Adding Oli Kebble, Brian Alainu’uese and Adam Ashe to the pack on a regular basis (after they combined for just 4 starts across the last 7 months of the 2017/18 season) should help that alongside the continued development of young players like Matt Fagerson, Scott Cummings and Jamie Bhatti.
Once the Scottish Rugby Academy Stage 3 players have been confirmed for 2018/19 OTOTM will take a look at the full depth chart for Glasgow and consider how the entire squad is shaping up for the current campaign.